A fence angled like a broken jaw,
mildew on rocks otherwise porcelain-white.
Blackthorns squat and daisies sway,
and the peasant’s neck is bowed as if at the nape,
lined like a riverbed, his soul is restored
in heat and salt. Triglav fakes ascent.
Perhaps its bare peaks jabbing the shifting sky
are what’s left of the falling mountain,
that, thick at its base, extends to the fields,
the lead-footed cattle. I step out of the car
by the roadside shrine— our black Madonna,
a plastic bouquet of stems at her feet—
move closer to the man on the tractor
and the dieseled patchworks in caramel and bile:
flattened wheat and hops vine, empty hayracks.
I leave the door open, let What Work Is
wait on the passenger seat worn smooth
like the ones in your Jeep where last fall
I’d leaned toward you behind the wheel,
the car parked in gear. Vigilant, you stirred
as I snapped the white buttons on your shirt,
the hardened brown equator of your belt,
ducked from the eyes of those pushing carts:
cured lamb, corn on Styrofoam, cellophaned rye.
You shielded my black hair, then eclipsed
(what you called) the half-moons under my skirt,
your hands familiar with churned earth, honest work,
and what it takes, even in the tucked back
of a paved parking lot, to absolve a peopled,
syrup-thick afternoon of a small crime of love.