But then a second Yoakum brother paid a visit. This was Junior, the youngest, veteran of the Navy, pulling up the drive in an all-terrain buggy with his wife Ginger in the passenger seat and two hunting dogs in tow.
I had never met Jr before. He lives not far away. We got to talking. He had some questions for me. He wanted to know about the house. Does it have running water? Yes, I said, but the toilet is not currently hooked up. Is there any air conditioning, a window unit? asked Ginger. Negative on that. Just a box fan, I said.
Jr remarked on the clearing I’ve been working on these last few years. He even noted how the shed had been cleaned up, part of it anyway. He had memories of Willy Lee, who lived in this house in the middle of the last century, who farmed this land. Jr identified that big hulk of rusting metal in the pasture near the barn as a wheat combine. A thresher. My mom’s dad was a wheat farmer, he would have known that hunk of rust was a thresher. On a recent visit, my uncle Vernon had alerted me to an article outlining the history of my grandfather's threshing circle in the Okawville Times. I wondered about the viability of growing wheat on this rocky terrain but I guess old Willy Lee had it figured out well enough...
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Today I ate three small, round, plump persimmons. They were of an orange hue, tasting somewhat sweet, a little juicy. Fleshy. I didn’t know much about persimmons until recently. Probably I ate one or two somewhere along the line but when and where and why I cannot say. These persimmons were from a stately tree with silver-green leaves that stands out now in the north end of the cattle pasture at a place I call Farm, a plot of sixty acres of mixed pasture, scrub, and hardwood forest in eastern Miller County, Missouri.
This past winter I set out to begin relieving this land of the burden, of the scourge of eastern redcedar infestation. These cedar trees, which aren’t actually cedars at all but a type of juniper that grows as a tree, grow at a quickened pace. With speed and numbers on their side, a gang of cedars will take over just about any landscape, encircling older and taller trees, choking them out, robbing them of water and other resources...
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Entire poem this way...
Imagine the sound of that comet,
Its tail a contrail split in two,
Dust and fried ice, the Sun
Seething with impotence
As the comet passed it by,
Somehow staying together.
Then I saw it the way I saw it,
Wicked blue morning,
Cows in the field with
Better eyes than me
But there on the horizon
Upside down, breeching, glowing with
An hour before dawn...
Like the jigsaw puzzle suddenly nearing completion the pile was virtually gone. I had used the tarp to drag the piled debris to a new bonfire-to-be in the pasture. After the pile down below went up so easily yesterday afternoon I figured we could easily get this pile ablaze before dark.
The locust limbs split and hauled away, the thorny vines extirpated and lofted onto the pile, the only element of debris remaining where the brush pile once sat was a collection of tree detritus: twigs, leaves, the maroon pods of the honey locust. It was a curious collection, somewhat familiar-looking. I was grabbing at this melange with gloved hands and tossing some of it on the tarp to be hauled away. Doing this I stepped into a depression, wide but shallow. I started to get an inkling that I was disturbing a nest...
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