Letter to Dad from New Danville, 1998

When I can no longer stand to read
or write in any chair in the house,
I bank the fire and head out
into the night, slither
between electric fence lines
and climb a ridge where you can see lights
from Lancaster city all the way
to the black Susquehanna.
I lie down there under Orion's belt
until snow melts through my hair
to the back of my neck. This is the best
thing you ever taught me: to stop
and stretch out under tree limbs or clouds.
I almost forgot how good a pasture feels
beneath a sore back. And these evil days
when you can't say who'll sign your check
or for how long, as friends of thirty years
get canned or quit or just turn silent,
you must walk out onto that smooth swath
of Westinghouse lawn and lie down. Think
how the sky will open above you. Think
how the ground will hold you as it
always has, as it certainly will until
it takes you once and for all.

:: Julia Kasdorf, in Witness 12:2, 1998

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