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New England

Kim Roberts

We ploughed the fields
              four times
       before we could plant seeds:

harvesting rocks, rocks
              like grey potatoes
       sheathed in dirt

and larger rocks that chipped
              the teeth
       of all our tools.

Season after season
              we arrayed them
       in straight lines,

tried to tame them,
              laying stone atop stone
       in the old way, to make walls:

no mortar, so they could breathe
              in freeze or thaw
       and hold their balance

and still they came, more,
              working toward the light,
       tunneling through the soil,

until we gave ourselves over
              to stone, and still they came,

as if our fields were church
              and they were the apostles
       of the first stone.

The land worked us,
              not the reverse,
       and gravel entered our blood.

We learned to watch for them
              all the time, to be vigilant,
       to think in the rock language

until everything was rock,
              until we ourselves
       became part stone.

Kim Roberts

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