Force-feeding swans—let me tell
you—was hard. And up
every morning 4:30 counting

the lambs out to pasture,
each one tapped on the forehead with a stick
to be sure it’s there.

Uncle Reaper half the time so drunk
he’d pull his milkstool
under the horse: more work

explaining the difference. Gramma
and Cousin Shroud putting up
8000 jars of beets, Auntie Bones

rapping her wooden spoon
against my ear: “More bushels, bumbler!”

I’ll tell you—I understand
how come the dancing bear tore off his skirt
and headed back to the Yukon,
how come all of a sudden jewels in avalanche
down the spine of my sleep . . .

But still, still when it rains
I remember all of us: farmers, simple sweatmongers
of the dirt whose turnips depend on it,
I remember how we called it down, how down
we desired it to fall: the rain.

:: Thomas Lux, Sunday

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