This one the color
of my shoulder in winter,
and this one, my shoulder in summer.
No seam no pock no
porthole, smooth as oil.
The surface curve:
just a tip and a buttock,
silent as a horn in the trunk,
how many times can we give
what’s formed inside us—
Never? Always? Once?
I drew a finger through the dust,
feeding it white beans . . . a dotted line
and scooped a shallow dish, sprinkling
gherkin seeds—like flinging coins
to the hopper of the unmanned tollbooth,
will anything take?
The snapping turtle beside the road
swats a patch of dirt;
all summer here, on the mountain,
without electricity, under phases of the moon,
a famous writer fathers essays;
we’re sitting at his picnic bench
when I feel a twinge
near my right kidney—
little grain of me or star,
more silica than cell,
you sort of something,
you begin your
fall toward loam.
From The Academy of Hay (Bona Fide Books, 2015)
Julia Shipley is an independent journalist, farminista, and the author of Adam's Mark: Writing From the Ox House (Plowboy Press, 2014), selected as a Boston Globe Best Books of 2014. Her writing has also appeared in Alimentum: The Literature of Food, CutBank, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, FIELD, Flyway, Fourth Genre, Green Mountains Review, North American Review, Orion, Poetry, Poet Lore, The Rumpus, Small Farmer's Journal, Terrain.org and Whole Terrain. A two-time recipient of grants from the Vermont Community Fund and the Vermont Arts Council, she’s also been a fellow at The Frost Place and The Studios of Key West. She is married to one man and six acres in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.