© 2019 by Justin Hunt, text and photos

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Two West and a Half South

 

Out here, next to the abandoned rail line, where locusts

drone over August dust and stunted elms stoop north in wind,

 

out here on the prairie grid two miles west of town,

they lay her in the brown earth. She’d been away

 

the last sixty years—left after her husband died young,

turned the farm over to a neighbor on cash rent and never

 

came back. Couldn’t bear to look at her husband’s grave,

they said, didn’t want to mope in the old house,

 

its sides peeling, frame listing to ruin. So she moved,

as if to forget it was here she’d breeched from her mother,

 

come out both feet kicking to the ground—out here where

her family slogged each dawn to milk-barns and fields.

 

Sixty years away: remarriage, more children, more moves,

a widow’s grief anew, grandkids and great-grandkids

 

scattered far to cities, her final years nursing-home gray—

though there was that sleepless night she managed

 

to wheelchair to the phone, call her oldest son and command:

 

Bury me on the home place. Two west and a half south.

See that it’s done.

 

 

 

2nd Prize, 2015 Muriel Craft Bailey Contest.

Appears in The Comstock Review, Fall/Winter 2015 issue.