By: Karen Stevenson
DIRT ROAD ON THE EAST SIDE: I find a turkey tail feather lying in my path, a sign, perhaps, of the end of tom-foolery display and indifferent hens that are now out of sight, setting on nests with enduring patience. What do the toms do now that the strutting and gusty gobbling and show of red wattles and turquoise heads are over? Do they find satisfaction in their mostly drab existence?
EAST MEADOW: How many times has this meadow been swathed, baled, and grazed? How many times have I walked over this rusted horseshoe with square nails lying on the ground? What made it reveal itself to me this day in particular? I hold it and wonder whose hand forged it and pounded the nails into the hoof? Was it in a dim lit barn, the steed balancing on three legs and patiently munching oats from a pail? What horse and rider passed this way and for what purpose when the shoe was thrown? I hold a period of time in my hand when the land was not defined by fences or by the asphalt highway that now parallels the meadow where semi-trucks roar like dragons as they speed by.
MIDDLE MEADOW: I smile at the puff balls scattered in the meadow, salsify gone-to-seed, brilliant gauzy globes, ready to launch their helicopter seeds at the mere suggestion of a breeze. And I think of a friend who told me a story about herself as a little girl, spray painting puff balls in a pasture with primary colors of reds, yellow, blues and then hiding in the tall grass to watch as a neighbor slowed down on the dusty county road staring out her window, most likely wondering what invasive species of plant had so quickly sprouted colorful blossoms in the hour she had last driven by!
WEST MEADOW: My dog carves his way through the tall grass and alfalfa like a fish swimming through currents in a river. Knee-high and lush from all the rain this spring, I pick my way through wheatgrass and blue joint, needlegrass and dropseed. Then, I catch a glint on the ground and my skin prickles with instinctual warning as I listen for a rattle. Looking closer I see, next to my boot, an s-curve of translucent reptilian skin wound around tufts of grass. I gently pick it up, tissue-paper thin, and drape it over my hand. The snakeskin bears a resemblance to my own weather-worn and aging skin with lines and wrinkles crisscrossing in a scale-like pattern. Once shed, who will find my luminous skin, lying on the soil next to June grass and salsify, gone to seed in a summer meadow?
By: Karen Stevenson