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Ruth

There is a richness to this land still uncollected.
I am known by the slim gleanings,
orderly remnant of stalks
haunting the path of the scythe,
whisper of full head of grain’s random sway.

Rattling of metal,
swoosh of blade against stem,
’round and ’round:
the sound you loved as a child—
of ocean in shell or lacking that,
cupped hand over car
or empty jar even,
anything to replicate
wave upon wave against shore.

At night, ceaselessly humming,
in slowed repetition of busy-ness
echoes of reaping
become low tones of my fathers’ voices
around nightly campfires
and I am called back to Moab.

I turn against such fatherly insistence
as every face in memory expands
into unrecognizable patterns
of light and dark.
I turn against that night.

There is a hush on the far side
of the mown field,
a stillness of ancestors
who yet defy their rest.
If I could lay one night
in that cool dampness
I would not be swayed
by a far country,
or by knife against shaft,
the necessary cutting which feeds.

Slow now the whorls of reaping,
turn down to roots
uncommon and tangled.
We might let this embrace,
if nothing else,
serve as a common heritage
and go on.

Jennifer Thomas lives in rural Vermont. She has a long association with the frost place in Franconia, New Hampshire, a writers’ conference at one of Robert Frost’s farms.