Arbon Valley, Idaho

He remembered home like the calendars his mother kept

boxed in the cellar: ninety-eight, oh-nine, ninety-four:

He never understood how they’d gotten mixed up so.


From the porch, the grasses billowed like the ocean he’d never seen,

like her straw hair, only less red, for the sun turned her

strawberry blonde by July. She left in August.


He wished she had waited until November,

when the early-maturing ears didn’t demand to be sown,

when he didn’t need to plant three extra rows to the East.


He could have written books, if the corn wasn’t so needy;

he could have written for months of the way she helped him

shake the pollen from the corn tassels early on still mornings,


the way her neck arched to the task, how it was fun to her

the way watching was to him.

He could have written of the weekend he took her to the city.


She didn’t understand the ways of the concrete and bustle

but she could fit in anywhere, long as she could say Grace and stretch her legs.

She had laughed easily that Sunday under the harsh lights.


He stuck out the harvest once she was gone, stayed through October

and by then it was too late to start writing. He left her blue-jeans and stray earring

in one of the calendar boxes, buried between oh-one and eighty-nine.


It was an old song, like everything he knew, like corn,

the way she left, then he. The first snow on the new roof in Craigmont felt heavy.

His mother wrote in neat script, pleading him home for the planting.