We chose to meet somewhere neutral: whole
angel oaks and puckered birches, surrounding pine
wearing skirts of low branches.
Ten months later, you're reluctant, still thinking
what to say. We walk hundreds of hectares,
the dirt path horseshoeing a beet field just planted
and we talk: quietly, capably—I'm spouting
Carolyn Heilbrun, how she knew her end well enough
to walk right into it. Like Mishima and the sword,
you add, with three feet steeping between us.
At noon it was weather to paint houses in; now
the thunderheads are portly, unapologetic—
We can smell the rain, feel our shoulders sag
under the weight of it. Shoots of birdsfoot trefoil
tinge the copse and shudder, the wind laces a carol
through the bracken, the sugar beets, the low field stares.
We keep pardoning each other, but with both hands
hidden. We keep leaving one thing unsaid.
To listen instead for the congeries of chapped
and dirtcrusted seeds, muscling through the soil
like spinning tops. This could be the season
of arrow-hearted meat, of soil streaking violet.
I nearly felt it that afternoon—October's
juiced cossettes, rows of life so sweet they palpitate.

Melissa Barrett is the recent author of False Soup, a veg-friendly cookbook from Forklift, Ink. Her poems have received honors from Tin House, Indiana Review, and Gulf Coast, and can be found in No Tell Motel, Front Porch, and H_NGM_N. "Pilot," her collaboration with filmmaker Pete Luckner, recently debuted at Video Dumbo. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761