Floating with just my nose and eyes above the water
Hands folded behind my head
Doing this slow bicycle with my feet
Very little effort at all really
I feel like I could go forever, maybe take a nap
The nighthawks work in circles over my head
White bands on their wings
Long, sleek, bending lines
Swooping and turning for insects in flight
Just when I think they have left
They come back into view
By the time he’d finished he was too tired to do anything. His body wore out.
The late August heat was a dull and building headache. The sun was too much, even in the woods. Since the breeze had stopped the mosquitoes had kicked into high gear. They were in his ears. Stinging his cheeks through the mosquito net, ignoring the mint-oil concoction that was supposed to ward them off. The pond was about the only thing he could do. So he called the house and said he was going there.They could tell from his voice that his idea of going for hickory nuts was abandoned. He loaded up the truck and took one last walk around the pen, shaking the panels as he went to see they were all wired on tight. Then he drove out of the woods along the pasture and down the hill to the dam where he parked half in the shade.
and shed his tattered, stinking clothes.
Half the pond was clear, the half on the far-side from the dock. So he stood on the board and dove in. He swam under the algae out to where the lightest breeze kept the surface clean. The kids were already in. He swam down into the cold water two feet below. He laid on a noodle and rested. His head in the water, cooling his brain.
And when the wife came down and joined them in the water, they talked of how the farm would look very different without that tall tulip tree just passed the dam. And how in five years the chestnut there on the edge of the orchard would be twice that size. And to his son he said how glad he was they were able to see the nighthawks yesterday.
And he looked out at the apples in their row and the black walnuts. And they all looked at the cloud in the east. His son said it was Laputa.
Shorts over pants
Long business shirt stained, collar up (for mosquitoes)
Boys in the back of the truck with 30 t-posts, Sthil brush cutter and a $20 red mountain bike
Across the dam they yell, “Go fast”
And up along the pasture
The woodland sunflower like iridescent fluorescent yellow in the morning light
The mist flower iridescent fluorescent purple
Colors you can’t write
The locusts going
The sweat trickling down the forehead beneath this season’s straw hat
still holding up
Now I’m going to sit on the tailgate and drink water before I walk home for lunch and tea.
Insects are quieter now.
The breeze is gentle and seems to just be around me and this mid-canopy where the leaves shake.
No other leaves are moving high in the trees or out in the pasture or anywhere.
Maybe it is because I’m parked at the mouth of the woods, at the top of a hill and just above the drainage we call Turkey Creek.
It was here, or rather down in the bottoms, and maybe this time of year that I was wandering one evening and spooked a flock of turkeys and watched them fly 100 feet into the canopy over onto Mr. Anderson’s property. I’d never seen turkeys fly that high before, nor through the trees like that. So that’s why we call it Turkey Creek. That was nine years ago.
Old puffy had just been asleep under a big, half-dead spicebush. He hadn’t heard me walk over to the truck and sit down. He wondering where I went. He panted over. Now he’s panting near the front of the truck. He’s nine years old too. Knows it’s time to go home for lunch and tea.
I brought 4 more Asian pears back with me.
Over the break we swam. And I went to check the hickory on the north side of the pond and came back with a decent haul still in their hulls plus some beech nuts thrown in.
The neighbor has out his blunderbuss.
It must be Sunday.
All hail the Federation.
God save the Foundation.
I deserve a break. All the posts are up. All the panels are laid out. The breeze is gone and these banded, tiger-stripped mosquitoes are going through my jeans.
The blunderbuss calls out. A rooster answers from the place south of Mr. Anderson. The tailgate is in the sun so I sit on the hood. I’m going to try to get $1,500 in trade for this truck. She ain’t pretty.
Soon the boys should be out. I told them we’re going to fill buckets with hickory nuts and I haven’t’ told them that I found the first paw paw today.
My water is almost gone. I need to finish.
Sunflower image credit: Chris Miller
Common nighthawk image credit: http://www.animalstown.com/animals/n/nighthawk/wallpapers/nighthawk-wallpaper-02.php