Farm Life


By Larry Duncan

My father’s chair didn’t waltz.
It rocked.

My mother’s face was a plum.

Tomatoes worms,
the size of chubby green fingers,
ate eyes into the red and purple
faces in the garden.

Every day was Halloween.

My sister and I hung
like loose sheets from the branches
of apple trees and fed horses
through the charged wires
of an electric fence.

“Careful,” she said. “They think
your fingers are sugar cane.”

I held my hand between the wires.
The equine head lolled
and opened its mouth
and the world was filled
with a field of flat, wide teeth.

We stood frozen,
my sister and I,
in the fray of apple
and horse, our hearts
learning to breathe again
in the face of simple hunger.

While my mother’s eyes stayed
shuttered as a farm house
and my father’s chair pounded
it’s unanswerable knock at the door.

Previously appeared in Black Heart Magazine and Crossroads of Stars and White Lightning.

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