by Misty Skaggs

(originally published in Limestone 2007: Frontiers)

We plant our feet--
In that broad way which has become habit.
Yellow green unfolds before us.
Bent at the waist, determined to provide.
We pluck them from the earth.

I wrap my arms gently around a full bundle--
Lick the familiar taste of nicotine from my fingertips.
Muttering reassurances, stepping carefully...
No one will be left behind.
There's room in our furrowed fields for each of you.

Hot sun on my shoulders--
Water tank dripping cool on my red neck
Click, click, click, click, click.
New life shoved deeply into dampened soil.

Rhythm is easy for us hill folks--
Natural as a banjo beat, hypnotic.
Loud laughter shouts out
Up from the pigtail-er,
Down from the driver's seat
Of Daddy's rusted Ferguson,
Keeping time.

We are a satisfied sort of tired--
When the day is done.
Sunset, hands on our hips
Swigging ice water from old milk jugs.
Pores caked in grimy leftovers
Of our own land
Flavored by self-assured sweat.

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