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—
                    crunch underfoot.

                    As almanacs predicted,
          this morning after the Full Snow Moon

                              waxed full,
                    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,

                              minosa moon,
                    ērutāoñe warrior, etā´hni first, 

          the record lost for mountains, vines, 
                    mourning, song.

                              From the pines, the doves resume 
                                        their four notes; 

                                        throats thickening before each 

                                                  a tremolo of tissues 
                                        that clot the air

                                        like clouds, 

Pressure Wash

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
between jobs, 

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.