They’re burning fields on the delta –
violent end of harvest.
Smoke billows above charred stubble,
chokes and blinds me as I drive.
Mom turns ninety on Sunday.
The whole town’s invited
at two for cake and to say
how good she looks.
In truth, she’s not good.
Fragile with diabetes, eyes failing,
fingers gnarled to claws;
no quilts for new babies.
Hard-willed as the life she’s led,
she stays alone with a cat and a walker.
Folks look in on her from time to time, say
they’ll let me know if something happens.
I’ve burned the fields too.
College-trained for work not at the whim
of subsidies and drought, I expect
no feast for this prodigal.