soil

from across the aisle i hear rapid percussion. a dull downpour. the grocer, a kid, maybe 16, hefts a wax coated cardboard box to eye-level and tips it forward with the precision of a dump truck. a red onion rolls past my toe. it disappears under a shelf. lucky bugger escaped, i think to myself. 

a memory surfaces of potatoes bouncing into a blue milk crate. crickets and cicadas cut the air into high pitched rhythms, pulses and sustains. my babcia's humming and muttering setting a tempo for the beat. once in a while she glances over her shoulder, eyes the crate, then me, then the crate, 'potrząsnąć'-she says. shake it. the contents roll around each other, some leap headlong tumbling into the dirt trenches at my feet. 

now, i imagine the relief of their roots reconnecting with the dirt. a moment of communication, reconnection. 

then, i just wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible. scooping them up, stealing their hope and sealing their fate, before she noticed. she glances again and i know i have to shake them again. 'cichy' -gently, she reminds.

he watches me for a really long time. i work in gridlines. left to right. top to bottom. i wonder if he wonders what i am looking for. one by one i check, and pile, and order and categorize 100 avocados. i know what i am looking for. uniform brown skin, soft crown and bottom, a slight give to the flesh, a green seat under the loosened stem.

even a potato deserves dignity. it demands an understanding. she understood this.

he doesn't.

i pack up my brood and mention to him that an onion escaped under the shelf. 'no problem, i got it' -he says. i pay and as i pass out the sliding doors i can still see the onion sitting motionless in hiding. the young grocer has moved on to the next aisle likely forgetting his promise.

surge

the water was here
two weeks ago.
nature sank the
reeds and weeds though,
with sloshed ice 
and snow
pushed against 
these riverbanks.

slow moving massive
bullish currents
like molasses
combed out bent
mud streaked grasses.
spring high tides 
kept tidy lines of
woven waves. 

i look upriver.
cool wind brings
shivers then freezing
breezes. 
one hand to steady 
as one finger traces
absently downward through 
mineralized seasons.

as dust falls from
break walls
calcified wave lined
stains recall
a riverful of water
once stood
where i stand.

breathless, my guess is 
that the ground 
where my hand rests
only recently has 
resettled. 

the fresh borne
soil is restless 
because these days
it rests less as
hikers and bikers cut
paths like wounds
across its fresh 
face. 

it knows that  
something chaotic
stormed through this
tract 
as a reminder
of what owns
this land.

former trees
broke and cracked
lay askew 
on their backs 
and skew 
the soft river edges
with
bristled ledges.

i sit atop a 40 foot pine 
and consider 
for some time 
how majestically 
it lays
at my feet,
and weeps.

the week keeps 
me in
place just like this. 
in stasis. 
in its
fist.

stuck on the bank
of 
work fueled spaces
the constant grind
erases traces
of me.

and like that 
mighty pine 
all i really
want to do 
is
lay down
and stay down.

trampled by elements
outside my control.
flattened
by a force that consumes
me whole.

and
unable to hear
a distant
warning bell toll
that the deluge
is rising.

maps

i have never left this place. 
sitting on the front stoop 
looking through 
grass and scrub 
out over escarpment 
framed by ashen skies
soundtracked 
by a roiling lake ontario. 
i have never left this place. 
feeling the roughened 
cliff top grasses perched
imperiously over temperamental
waters. 
i have never left this place. 
entreating the sparse
indifferent cirrus wisps 
passing over 
flitting cliff swallows- 
where do they go during dark seasons? 
i have never left this place. 
and i wonder when memories like this
fall away, where do they land? 
i have never left this place. 
still, 
messages 
from the person
i left behind 
float to shore.