[after Grant Woods’ painting]
If you listen, you can hear them:
Children playing hide-and-seek
behind the domed hill, chasing through the cleft between.
They hunt larks’ nests, run after rabbits.
They dare to walk the river’s edge, balance
on teetering logs across the shallows, sink
water-striders with rocks round and smooth,
smooth as the hills of home.
Behind closed doors the women are busy
at rows of jars, putting up peach halves.
They polish windows, do mending, wait
for their men to return.
And then the evening comes again,
a sigh—the last meal done, another
day over. Children out the door once more
call “alley alley ox-en free” in the blind dark.
There was sunrise, sunset then—bright and dim,
sun and moon—both sides.
The Hiss Quarterly, August 2008