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John Canaday
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Song of Myself

[The traveler dreams of a once familiar place and time.]


I am a stubborn ox dreaming
of rain as the drover's fingers drum
around my eyes. But no: the wet
hum of flies distracted me,
and now the plow has drifted from
the line I meant to follow. See
where the damp leather of the reins
has worn the callus on my left
forefinger raw? Or was it the dry,
ash handle of my hoe? I can hear
the steel head singing as it strikes
rocky ground, the fresh-turned earth
swallowing showers of sparks. The tip
of my tongue goes dry. I touch my lips
to the soil as I once touched you, here
and there. A single knot of dirt
crumbles slowly in my mouth
with the taste of sweet butter dripping
from your thumb. This ground will raise
a heavy crop. I am the wheat
that flowed around your waist like water.
I am that lonely knot of earth.

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