Where the heat of the day rises to meet the cool of the evening,
sometimes a layer of fog forms above hay stubble.
An oak that survived the great Hinckley fire
over a hundred years ago waits
while white mist diffuses behind it,
stretches up and over the corn, curls down to grasses
on the other side of the field, slides out to meet the beaver pond.
Fog erases so much as it echoes the remainder of day:
the red-tail that hunted rodents this afternoon,
a garter snake that sunned in the short stubble,
rolls of hay that dot the field,
who walked out to sit and read
—all disappear in its cool insistence.
Hints of sunset still remain in the west—
where mist has not yet covered water,
bits of color reflect back from the clogged creek.
The dog and I stand still, listen to fog.
We scent the air. In the brush, a crashing sound.
“Ground fog” originally appeared in The Cape Rock in 2002. ©1999 Michael Dickel.
A man walking along a field where new corn
dots the soil grasps a bit
of stone, skimming it to the furrows
as though to skip across water—
but it punches up a small dust cloud
and sinks. A father and son walk a fence,
ready to repair rents in the barbed-wire.
Soon the corn will outreach the man;
then the combines come and tear it down.
The repairs will rust; then a poplar
drops across the fence one windy day.
Still, the men walk; the corn waits—
this is what they do.
Up by Lake Superior one day
a man tosses a smooth stone;
and it flits across the water
out to where blazing waves blind him
as he stands there gazing. Then, he speaks.
“Tacit” originally appeared in Blue Earth Review, @2004 Michael Dickel.
Called to faith
A man stands over the culvert on the gravel road onto the farm.
The stone he hefts in his hand—igneous remnants from before time,
bits of crystal cooled across history mingled with impurities beyond memory.
He lofts this shard of the past in a slow arc ending in the dark pool of standing water.
Sometimes he wishes he could follow it down through the water as surface tension
erases its faint traces; he wishes sometimes that he could fall through the cold numbness
to sink into the soft, welcoming mud—to sleep among layers of last year’s rotting leaves
and the year’s before and the year’s before and years’ before—layers of organic memory that,
do not reach the stone’s most recent memory. The stone takes no notice.
And the man does not sink with the stone into murkiness. The morning calls
him to his desire, so he chooses to return to the work at hand. There is a garden
to plow and disk. There is corn to plant and tend. There are nettles to uproot and remove.
Despite the threat of frost or hail or rabbit or deer, he trusts
that in August there will be sweet corn and tomatoes and beans.
He will gather some in and eat. He will gather some in to store. And
he will gather and save the best for next year’s seeds. These are the act of love.