Between fields, you taught me
how to check electric fences,
to choose a blade of grass for length,
dead-yellow, and then, to touch,
jerking from the little zap.
We danced around the wires,
teasing the current that jiggled
in our fingers until we crawled
through weeds and clods.
You showed me how to uncover
the shallows, to toss a stone
and listen for the path of our fording.
On the other side, we threw stones
into the silt of our steps, trying
to outskip the water striders
and follow the shadows of trout.
Swallows were easy, like rain.
You taught me how to check for trains,
to hear down miles of steel,
gravel criss-crossing my skin.
We placed pennies like firecrackers
but found them crushed
into nothing worth keeping
as the murmur of the train fell away.
Rivers flood over fields of lives,
and stones say nothing now.
I do not know the way through
your crossing, how long to crawl.
In this dusk gathering like smoke
all I hear is cold.
Copyright 1996, Derek Sheffield
Derek Sheffield lives in Home, WA. His work has appeared in Seattle Review,
On, Spindrift, and Duckabush Journal. He is a co-author of
Teaching with the
Internet, Putting Teachers before Technology (Resolution Business Press, 1995).