Islands of the dead are coming to life,
red arms thrusting from middles of fields. Nearest
the headstones first, winter's chokehold gives way,
and daffodils laugh
-- once a private joke between man and wife,
overheard underground. New fierceness
inspires the briars. Lichens destroy
another letter. Only the small stone
remains clear, stubbornly. Its child eyes widen
where a dumped refrigerator door hangs
in the honeysuckle, where the backbone
of a cornsnake traces a bygone
hiss. Out in the fields the wind harangues
deaf tractors and scours the rich furrows
ripping around these wakened oases.
Men high up in the cabs of their machines
tune in tomorrow's
forecast. Power beneath them unburies
next times, if the price for potatoes
holds and no drought wipes out corn and beans.
Year after year the fields offer themselves,
multiplying as letter after stone-
cold letter dissolves.
But for now, dust swirls when the tractor delves
into our footprints. Innuendoes
rise, whose souls are islands of our own.
Ellen Kirvin Dudis lives in Pocomoke City.