February 14, observed in honor of St. Valentine,
a martyr of the third century, beheaded in Rome.
—Random House Dictionary
Dismemberment of a junked disk harrow
proceeds evenly and eventlessly.
The earth of Lincoln County petitions
lithe, dank, midmorning fog to settle low.
The fog is dense and, like a just-washed shroud,
droops to raw ground between dull, browned edges
of cold iron. On this Valentine’s Day,
Lincoln County martyrs a threadbare plow.
Disk harrows, plows, reaping machines, combines—
each led, as its time comes, to a high spit
of farmland among wild blackberry vines
and nine discarded mounds of field-turned stones
and left. First in, next spring: blackberry shoots,
their sap charged with Lincoln County’s thawing
sod. Thorns find and rack the combine’s core; wedged
ice severs a nameplate from a chaff chute:
| Wayne and Son Farm Implement Company |
| St. Cloud, Minnesota 1950 |
| Patent No. 97,802 |
After forty Junes, red thorns gird debris
mounded and fertile as plow-horses’ dung.
Iron disks, forged during this passion play’s
acts, are shards by the last. Medea’s outdone.
Earth is a cannibal eating her young.
“On the Earth of Lincoln County, Washington, on Saint Valentine’s Day, 1993” was a finalist for the 2019 Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry.
Robert Keeler: born in St. Paul, Minnesota; lived in jungles of Colombia, S.A., up to age twelve; Duke, BS Mathematics NCSU, MS Computer Science UNC, MBA UCLA, Certificate in Poetry UW; Honorman, U.S. Naval Submarine School, “SS” (Submarine Service) qualified, Vietnam Service Medal, Honorable Discharge; Member IEEE, AAAS, AAP.
Show R. J. some love via PayPal at robert.j.keeler(at)ieee(dot)org.