Somewhere Off a Dirt Road

Somewhere Off a Dirt Road

Somewhere off a dirt road
curled up in the dust
I fell fast in love
with the beauty of grass
behind a fence of barbwire
below a hill of grazing cows

As they wander, I follow the cows
far away from the dirt road
through a hole in the barbwire
to a place unreached by dust
alone with the grass
I let myself feel the leaves of love

Deep in that field, I make jeep love
with the farmer of the cows
our act is judged by the grass
we should have waited for the dirt road
but there would have been so much dust
and a difficult gate of barbwire

Found guilty and punished, I use barbwire
to fence around my love
bury him under a thickness of dust
walk on his grave with the cows
who flow toward the dirt road
searching for autumns last grass

When it dies, the grass
becomes sharp as barbwire
choked by the dirt road
lost, without rain’s love
I leave with the cows
the field becomes dust

I force my pain to be dust
so my tears feed the grass
bringing back the stray cows
who escaped the barbwire
I once again try to love
living at the end of a dirt road

I round up the cows, spit out the last of the dust
we leave behind the dirt road, drifting together in spring grass
I crawl under the barbwire and fall fast sleep with my love

Gray

Gray

Gray is honest

it claims nothing
in exposing the lies
of black and white

even in the honeyed light of morning
when ambiguity can seem warm
it casts itself in the shadows

when caught by the moonlight
it will reach into you
sharp and steely
make your breath catch
as it slices away
the security of all
that you once thought
of as truth

Kansas

Kansas

There is something
in the emptiness
of the Kansas prairie
that can fill your soul,
if you allow it to
scrub clean
your intentions
with the brush
of a cottonwood tree.

Under a Kansas sky
you can let loose
your worries to run wild
watch them from a distance
as they unfold into a vapor
on the horizon of a hot
August afternoon.

Witness from the rise
of a flint hill
those things that
once seemed important
become nothing more than
air and wind
when you wrap them
around the spinning blades
of a windmill
or let them wash away
into the breeze tide
of a wheat field
as it flows into the sun.

This is a place
where a stone house
can employ the
secrets of the past
to keep its shape.

This is a place
that invites you to sit with
your demons and talk
about sunflowers
and lightning storms

This is a place
that will teach you
nothing is as
flat or simple
as it appears.

The Riding Lesson

The Riding Lesson

by Kimberly Beer

It begins the first time
her tiny fingers
wrap around the reins,
commanding power
far beyond her years
and weight twenty times
her measure.

The leather is worn,
dark and dirty brown,
but still fully alive,
its essence sweetened
with the sweat of
a hundred horses.

The bay gelding
with the deep set eyes
feels the small tug
on the bit in his mouth,
feels the subtle shift
of weight on his back.
He lifts his head,
readies himself,
searches for the feel
of the cotton lead rope
in the hands of the teacher
to give him direction,
but it is not there,
horse and rider have been
released, freed by
the wisdom of
the teacher
to be on their own.
A gift is exchanged
in that moment,
a communion,
a scared endowment
between three beings,
teacher, student, horse.

In the years to come,
she may leave the barn,
forget how to cinch
a saddle, omit buckets,
blankets and stall picks
from her life,
but she will never
lose this moment,
and in her darkest
hours — those days
when life whips her
to the breaking point,
she will return here,
to the smell of
horse sweat and sweet feed,
to the feel of the reins
in her hands and,
if she has learned well
her riding lesson,
she will be able to
rise above her challenges,
sit tall in the saddle,
and command her life.

The Farmer’s Wife

The Farmer’s Wife

When he slips from their bed
at a quarter past four
on a cold winter morning
he will find the coffee already made
his coveralls warm
straight from the dryer waiting
by his boots in the mud room.
At dark, he will come in to find her
by the wood stove
dinner on the table
waiting with a smile.

In the spring, she will plant his life
with children and love
She will balance his books
consorting with tax man and banker
to find money where there is none
for a tractor
for a planter
for the combine
that will steal her man
on all the best fall nights.

In the summer, she will be consummate with the cows
have command of the bull
be up with the chickens
control the farm dog with only a look
she will feed cake as well as bake it
salt the heifers along with the bread
she will mend fences
grease mowers
harvest blackberries for a cobbler.

In the fall, she will know how to drive
the things that needs driven
the feed truck
the grain truck
the rake
the baler
the bulldozer
and she will meet him, willing
at the edge of the field after
she has worked a day full of her own
climb into the cab and
steer all night if she needs to.

She will wait patient as a corn stalk
for the rain to talk to him
about the kids
about the money
about the part for the plow
about what she needs
that which she will express in a way
that will keep him in bed
long past dawn on the sweet dark morning
while the crops and the grass
take in life from a cloud
she will drink in his essence
refill her soul
replenish his being
letting the seasons and the coffee wait.