Sarah Audsley


In the Pastoral I Know


Yes, there is a field, in the middle, a tree swaying,
            full with greenness, edible chartreuse.
Yes, there is a rusted red tractor roving
            up and down tugging the bailing machine, dropping
square bales of hay, like scattered forgotten furniture dotting
            the view of the horizon. No rain-cloud, no shiver,
no loneliness, just the sun, its gold saturation, and the girl
            in her bird-red coat, bending over, cupping
hands together, making train-whistles through blades of grass.
            She learns to look for tall water glasses at yard sales
for lemonade, iced tea, and long-handled silver spoons, long enough
            to stir the sugar in for the men working the fields, stacking
the hay bales high on the tractor’s flatbed. Inside the white farmhouse
            her grandma rolls out secrets from the flour drawer, making
biscuits, donuts, telling the little girl she belongs, belongs,
            belongs in that field of hay and corn, not in the field,
far away, of irrigated rice paddies, where women bend over,
            pluck and place their harvest in woven baskets. Hand over
hand, over pouring.





Anti-Pastoral


In the fields, they were pecking;
We shot the crows, bodies slack
In the dirt, their wings settle.
We strung ‘em up to warn the others.

We shot the crows, bodies slack
To protect the crops, yes,
We strung ‘em up to warn the others;
Birds, too, have memory. I do nothing—

Roll corncobs in butter, pass the salt.
My defenses strangled—yes?
About the tattooed crow, I say nothing.
Birds, too, have memory. I do nothing—

We protect the crops because, yes,
Nothing about hunger is passive.
Birds, too, have memory. I do nothing—
Golden tassels bend in the breeze.

Nothing about hunger is passive.
In the fields, they were pecking;
Golden tassels bend only in the breeze.
In the dirt, the wings settle.


 

Sarah Audsley lives and works in New Hampshire's White Mountains region. She has received support for her work from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and the Banff Centre Writing Studio. She holds a degree in poetry from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.


malasaña | New England| Cargo Collective | Frogtown, Los Angeles | 2019