we would wake aurora-borealis-early
to have our hands in the fields by the time morning came,
to harvest stones the size our fists would have been,
if we had ever thought to curl our fingers around nothing
and hold it there.
We would stay close behind our father’s tractor,
appearing in a pale thunder with the battered trailer,
in and out of the dust.
That early, everything was the color of stones,
and we only knew the rocks from the ground
by their fossils and quartz glimmer,
by the way they held in our hands
instead of crumbling—
We piled them along the lane
or tossed them on the rock heap,
handy fill-ins for wash-outs.
Around noon, our mother would join us,
after her midnight shift and a short rest,
having traded daylight
for a second set of work,
to keep us there.
This, we believed,
was how we showed
we were part of the earth,
the weight we felt in the rocks
and the faces we made out of clouds
as they mixed with the dirt
we’d take deep in our lungs.
Pause at the center of the last field,
in the shade of one old oak
any modern farmer would have cut out
to straighten the rows.
Katie Assarian is a poet, mother of twins, and active citizen of Grand Rapids, MI, USA. She has an Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming.