11.3 (Spring 2007)   The 2River View  

Jane VarleyListen



Where she comes from ninety-eight percent of the land
is dug and turned over by John Deere plows.
Men run the machines, men she has known.
They know who they are and their wives do too.

Who would not trust them? These pillars of earth,
homemaking, harvesting, living and dying, all in Iowa.
She left her chance with a young man who lives
just north of Dyersville, waiting to buy the farm.
From his blue bedroom she gazed out and fixed
a vision of that life, concerning the grain bin,
the red barn, and the yard, impeccably kept.

What a beautiful home it would make. She left,
thinking of years the place had been nurtured
with hope for the coming generation
that is expected to knock at the side door,
smiling, holding forth orange casserole dishes
filled with the warm weight of the future


What You Read in the Paper

An article about a man, 75, and woman, 68,
who took a backroad up the Sierra Nevadas.
They died in their car for two weeks.
Writing poems. Talking. Praying.
Sitting frozen until somebody found them.
They scrawled on a matchbook,
Wouldn't have given up the experience
for anything, no matter what the outcome.

There, in the journalistic matter-of-fact
like it's anybody's news. What about before
the outcome? The place they saw the sign
Not Maintained in Winter and their heartbeats
as they passed and took the dare.
Her note to their children said,
Your father has passed. She must have written
with a half-frozen hand, front seat, underneath snow,
breathless husband only inches and hours from her
as she waited-like that, both of them,
in and out of life.

Somebody had to find them and you
could be that person. Rub an opening
in the windshield ice with the side of your fist,
and see, like a store window display
of something beautiful, the two people there.
Stay completely still. Be silent. Don't move.




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