Some twenty miles out this road gives way to grass.
I stopped there once, no track for miles
but mine,

and that one already
springing back, the grass erasing
my passage. I wasn’t much more than a boy—

the blown dust a fist against my face, my father
dead the February before,
and ever since

my mother silent and moon-faced at the kitchen table,
her hand around a cup
of coffee, cold.

For chokecherries
I had an old ice-cream bucket,
deer-hide gloves for the lambs’ blood stain of them

on my fingers. I knew I was on my own, didn’t believe
in anything but my few years
of dry seasons—

though what a winter it had been. Snow
high as me, and higher. Even these bone-scape plains
erased, gone,

and gone too
the shelterbelt, corrals, broken-
backed sheep-shed my father let lean and in his sickness

fall. That day,
I didn’t know that so long as the river swells
with what the mountains give, chokecherries bloom

and bloom and never
berry. I wandered the bank. I’d never seen
the river so full, would never see it so full again.

And not a chokecherry to be found—
the trees a mess of wasp-happy

Joe Wilkins