Buried in the Corn

by Sophie Whitten


In the back field budding with lanky corn stalks,

where the deer tramp over the ground

and the birds pluck at scraps of broken branches,

my childhood is buried with the golf balls

my father drove into its soil from across

the cloudy, olive pond twenty years ago,


where, with a rusted tin pail between our hands

my sister and I trodded through the empty rows

shelling forgotten ears of corn, our thumbs

wringing the gold teeth from their gums.

We brought the yield to our uncle.

He offered us both a quarter for our work.


My childhood’s buried beneath the cardboard boxes

we dragged into the field to make a fort

but left for the farmers to find weeks later,

jammed between the blades of their combine,

thick and soggy with rain and mud

like a soiled diaper abandoned in the dirt,


where the dogs ran down a fawn

and pulled his hind leg from its joint,

their teeth sinking into his skin. I cried.

From the back porch, I wailed for them

to let go of the crying baby, tears and sweat

and slobber pooling down my chin.


There my childhood breathes the same breath

as the earth, mumbling the stories of my youth, 

and when my body is lowered into the black soil,

I will crawl from my casket back to those fields

where my memories turn over with the seasons

as the farmers till the land.


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