by Travis Sharp

          image of farmhouse
                      small child
                                  in overalls
                      bolls of cotton—                       a sort of fruit, woven and worn on the skin, and a kind of money—

          to sculpt a little plant life
                      to be rooted
                      to move sitting still
                      detectable only in—
                                  sufficient in self
                      potted humans
                                  delicately spoken to
               generously watered
                        by the window surrounded by
                                            real and artificial
                                            to sculpt a little
                                                        life of light
                                  the trailers all on crutches
                                                 the people shore themselves up
                                                        clay wet
                                                         —of a child, of a craven, of a desire,
                                                         of a touch—

                                            heaping, boisterous, it was “home,” it was
                                            “distant,” it was “home,”
                                            it was “fixed,” it was “a world”

                                                                     and united in their flatness

                                            it was “machine” it was “animal” it was “a boy” it was
                                            “growing” it was “so big” it was “a man” it was
                                            “uncomplicated” it was “masculine” it was “gaining weight” it
                                            was “a problem” it was “touchable”

                                  child’s cotton-polyester blend catching the bolls
                                            beginning to grow in volume


becomes the field


                                  low diversity in space
               high yield efficiency
                                  and high returns on investment

          covering a full 2.5% of the tillable earth

                                  a fruit
                                              to be eaten
                                              by the eyes

                                                        and now in such great rows
                                                        such great quantity
                                                        no longer can be beheld

                                                                     or only in one’s head
                                  or in the sublimity of a spreadsheet
                                  cotton futures
                                   rolling across
                                                                      ticker tape
                                                                      country road

                                                           3/4 lb of cotton in each lb of the U.S. dollar

                                                           —cotton, the world reserve currency, preserved so
                                              carefully, so hoardfully, so—

                                              —at the store,
                                              finding the wallet,
                                              opening like a codex, your
                                              family rubbing up against your

                                              at the store,
                                              isn’t this the perfect shirt,
                                              look at this scarf,
                                              look at this blouse, look at this
                                              skirt, isn’t this the perfect,
                                              look at those pants, look at

                                              at the store, taking your
                                              labor out of your wallet,
                                              pride in the crispness of
                                              the bills, exchanging
                                              cotton for cotton—

                                                           the visage of slaveowners providing value
                                                                       and desire
                                              both alike and unlike gold
               coins, equal parts

                                              to be worth one’s weight in cotton bills

               thin sales thin fields
               thin workers

                                              the health of the crop,
                                              the health of the soul

               and the life of the new money safely

                                              made of numbers, no longer

                           yet into the soft earth
                                              the crutches sink

                                              potted humans rooted to the
                           now-untillable earth into which their
                           ships sink

                                              these little metal ships the child
                                                  have sails could
                                         take off

                                                                       emerge into a new world
                           to be planted not

                                                                    to the property
                                                                     but to the sea

                                                                  you root there
                                                                     you’re rooted everywhere

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