Song of Myself
I am a stubborn ox dreaming of rain as the drover's fingers drum around my eyes. But no: the wet hum of flies distracted me, and now the plow has drifted from the line I meant to follow. See where the damp leather of the reins has worn the callus on my left forefinger raw? Or was it the dry, ash handle of my hoe? I can hear the steel head singing as it strikes rocky ground, the fresh-turned earth swallowing showers of sparks. The tip of my tongue goes dry. I touch my lips to the soil as I once touched you, here and there. A single knot of dirt crumbles slowly in my mouth with the taste of sweet butter dripping from your thumb. This ground will raise a heavy crop. I am the wheat that flowed around your waist like water. I am that lonely knot of earth.
From The Invisible World by John Canaday, forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2002. © Copyright 2001 by John Canaday. Used by permission. All rights reserved.