There is a day that comes when you realize
you can’t bake enough bread
to make things turn out right, no matter
how many times you read Little House on the Prairie
to your children. There aren’t enough
quart jars to fill with tomatoes
or translucent slices of pear to keep you
from feeling unproductive. There is no bonfire
that burns orange enough in the chill October night
to keep your mind from following the lonesome
howls and yips of the coyotes concealed
by darkness in the harvested cornfield
just beyond the circle of your fire. And when you
step away from your family and fire,
into the dark pasture and tip your head back,
feel the whole black bowl of sky
with its icy prickles of stars, its swath of Milky Way,
settle over you, you know that no one
and everyone is just this alone on the Earth
though most keep themselves distracted enough
not to notice. In your hollowness
you open your arms to God because no one else
is enough to fill them. Eternity
passes between and no one knows this but you.
The hum of their conversation, the whole world, talking.
When it is time, you turn, grasp the woodcart’s handle,
pull it, bumping behind you across the frosty grass,
up the hill to the house, where you
step inside cubes of light, and begin to do ordinary things,
hang up coats, open and close drawers,
rinse hot chocolate from mugs. And you are still
separate, but no longer grieving bread.
This poem first appeared in The Exponent. Vol. 124 – No 75 (May 3, 2010): 3. Print.
Daye Phillippo, a non-traditional student, earned a BA in Creative Writing from Purdue University in 2011 and an MFA from Warren Wilson in 2014. She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship and an Elizabeth George Grant for poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, Cider Press Review, Great Lakes Review, Literary Mama and others. She teaches English at Purdue University, and lives in a creaky, old farmhouse on twenty rural acres in Indiana with her husband and one son, the youngest of their eight children.