Three Poems by Amy Wright
Full Snow Moon
Last season’s tomato vines
by the red barn, a dun knot
you carry to low ground—
As almanacs predicted,
this morning after the Full Snow Moon
fog clotted the Blue Ridge,
a prophecy of attention
to patterns recurrent as mourning
dove’s coo intervals. Given time and
actinomycetes, dead roots will mulch,
though not redress
topsoil stripped by erosion, gas lines.
Startled doves resettle.
Each stamp threatens
to breach the thatch,
meet a muscle of earth
you can pulp red-juiced and salted,
candied into sauce.
Dry stems crack
open a body
of lost names the Tutelo
gave this land,
ērutāoñe warrior, etā´hni first,
the record lost for mountains, vines,
From the pines, the doves resume
their four notes;
throats thickening before each
a tremolo of tissues
that clot the air
When Old Guff’s tractor springs a flat,
he calls Fork Creek to come to him.
Though he does not want to scale back,
the man who used to make girls squeal
cornering curves to slumber parties,
has started driving slowly, resting
pausing to listen to neighbors.
To help the tire guy get at the wheel,
Guff squeezes a brace bar and gas-powered
trigger, blasts his machinery
with a spray of water could rip skin
from bone. Dried manure and hayseed
fly into gravel with the force of years.
Last week at Meade’s, Guff saw the price
of new tractors had increased by a third
in three years, unlike the price
of cattle. The wet flat bubbles
where air escapes. Against his finger,
a gash he cannot seal hisses, the day
around him, a radial carcass,
bead angled to bead at each ply.
A 300-hertz alternating magnetic
field spins from past rotations,
two hundred thousand pascals
of pressure per square inch,
encased in the compression chamber
of a grizzled pasture greening with lime-
leafed new thistles and other jobs
that cannot wait.
In his seventies, Guff wants more time
to rehang the gate whose fencepost split,
clear the hayfield of dead limbs,
check on the bull calf gripping the ground
with all four hooves,
back bowed by an ulcer
he entered the world with yesterday.
Cleaned, the cab windows
bounce droplets of sunlight
off his glasses, hands reddened
under a rain-rinsed cornflower sky
that, to the uninitiated, appears ageless.
When a farmer let a boy seine his stretch of creek
for minnows so he could fish New River,
the seiner claimed every bluegill, redeye, trout, and flier
under the bridge, moved upstream, ousted schools smaller
than anchovies by kicking rocks every few steps.
For fifteen years, no silver slip came of age between his traps.
Never start something you’re not willing to continue,
the farmer’s wife had warned, though to refuse
a neighbor’s son a favor went against human nature,
meaning he overestimated human nature.
When the farmer asked the boy, now thirty, to give
this habitat a rest, he tore up his hayfield
in a pickup, gouging ruts, sloshed the day’s
catch in thanks, if thanks drop in your stomach
a stone of history. Long licensed to take
what he wanted and longer past adolescence,
the trawler turned bully corporation
claiming personhood without bearing
any more responsibility than a tempest
to his temper. A seiner wields the seine,
the sin the sinner. First stones cast
carry the same weight as the last,
if rounder toward death each thrower draws;
no stone grows smoother than the grab.
No hand under its heft feels full
when it goes, seizing all it can.
Amy Wright’s nonfiction debut, Paper Concert: A Conversation in the Round, is forthcoming in summer 2021 from Sarabande Books. The author of three poetry books, her essays have appeared in Georgia Review, Fourth Genre, Ninth Letter, Brevity, and elsewhere. She has received two Peter Taylor Fellowships to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and a fellowship to Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.