At the bottom of the sky
we waited for water: the floss
of the young corn black rags
on the stalk, the wheat's corroding
secrets exposed. Winds
that turned water had ground down to dust
Nightly we pumped dreams—winds
splitting the big cottonwood
into furrows, winds creaking and calling,
the blades of the windmill clang!
slicing the night, sluicing
out water, awash in singing bare water—
Another scorcher. The mother handed
around bowls tainted with hunger,
the marsh drying under her apron.
Rules still striped the mortgaged earth:
deny the eyes' hard rimful,
the falter widening within
Finding the cistern walls
jewelled with toads,
square and muddy as a child's hand,
there was no more talk of water,
and the birds departed, driven
lark-feathered through silence
We were left behind, looking
into the cold grate of a sun silted over.
No longer in the game. Unforgiven,
and the thistles piled high across the road.