Digging the Pond
Jesse Graves
The vision must have come after rain,
a picture of water standing so deep
a house could hide under it.
He pushed and dug and cut through
scrub pines like they were tall blades of grass,
dragged orange clay from under the topsoil.
At thirteen, I mostly stood back and waited 
for rocks to lug into the nearest gulley,
sinking my hands under the cool mud
so long buried, the runoff from two ridges—
we found an arrowhead the first day
and envisioned bone shards and lead slugs.
For years a hard rain would spill its banks,
and pond lilies would sheen it with yellow 
through the warm months, before the drought 
years and otters did their work, and its water
looked like something caught in a rusted bucket.
When my father stands on the bank and talks
over what to do with the farm, he looks up 
toward the ridge-line and down at cracked dirt.
He can name every species of tree, wild root,
the compounds of the soil in every field,
and knows that I stood off to the side too often 
to learn what he was born knowing. 
The doing and the undoing. 
I can read in his face what he reads 
about the future in the tea-colored water,
his eyes and mine trying to avoid it.

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