When I was young I carried the stones my stepfather combed from the earth

to a wall we built around what is now

a field of blueberries. It was slow, repetitive work

that filled the air with dust

                                                the apple trees, pine trees & pond fell behind.


                                                                                                                                At the end of one

dirt road Antelope-Man slept on 

                                                      his front porch barefoot—a shotgun

loaded on his lap, a sheep gutted by his boots—the deformed center

of local folklore. Above him,

                                               through its holes, the dilapidated

roof sang. The harrow tore the stones

out of the earth.  Slow, repetitive work. All that dust

& the most beautiful purple loosestrife stooped by the stone wall

I kept returning to. Beauty nothing else can live by

                                                                                         without vigilance. Now,

the music of blueberries drum the bottom of this

white pail it’s my job to fill for Sunday’s market, to fill to the rim

& empty, & start again. & it seems to

                                                                 take forever.  The visible world shrinking

in all that dust. The pattern of dust formed

in the larger pattern of wind. The chatter of birds

through it.  A little light

                                                                    made evident. What happened was

the economy went bad.

                                                                     We bought land in the north.  There

was solitude in the orchard. Yellow Jackets sucked at

the sugar of the cores left

half-devoured by deer, & four Montmorency Cherry trees stood

in the far corner, famous for their tough stems & tart pies, a decrepit ladder

                                                                       propped against one of the purple boughs.

On the other side of the hill, blueberries. & beyond that

wild blackberries & the woods.

The quiet roll of New Hampshire farm & forest repeating all the way

                    to where the eye gives out, & then

Portsmouth & the Atlantic. The dull ache that took hold

after a full day of work lifting stones to the wall.  Each day the ache intensifying

                                                                                         until, finally, the ground was

too hard to till, & we moved on to the the easier tasks—spreading hay

over the strawberries to shelter them from snow, or loosing

                                                                                                the small metal fence

from its stakes, so the goats could get through & graze

on the last tufts of tough yellow grass.


                                                                                          The difference, it turns out,

between dust & fruit

is a few years of rain. &, then, after a few more years,

the antique farm equipment scattered across the lot

                                                                                           is rusted through. & I am

stooping & plucking blueberries one by one in this noon heat, grateful

                 to have my hat & water, aware

my life has been too easy.