Almost Heaven by Arlin Buyert
Our Iowa farm cradles me
with its stately red barn,
white clapboard farmhouse
and family grave yard on the hill.
Straight but swaying rows of tall corn
dig quietly into the black dirt,
as the oat field rolls with the wind
on the back 40.
Guernsey cows bow down
and grind their cud in the pasture
that is neatly parted by Rock Creek
and guarded by the windmill’s fan.
Chickens scratch with alternating claws
for a speck of left-over corn
and Tippie our terrier tends the night
that lights Big Dipper and Orion’s belt.
But then–I behead and strip
a young rooster for suppertime.
Winter snow crushes our hog-house roof
and the Holstein bull gores our neighbor (never again).
Lightning finds five calves under the cottonwood tree
and July hail hacks the beans and oats.
A late frost claims the early corn
and the corn picker maims my uncle’s hand.
Our old sow eats her piglets—
“Son of a bitch! Son, go get the 22.”