The Farm Pond, Sept 95


In memory of Dale Wellman

(Minden, Iowa)

The fluorescent burn
of fireflies,
a thousand flickers
of energy, and
the swoop
of the nighthawk,
scooping mouthfuls
of mayflies,
entranced me.

That summer I came
to learn wild plants
and tracking through
timber. There was a subtle
peace in the sun
diminishing after
a hot day. The deer
stood knee-high
in the water and knew
the sanctuary
of thickets and tall corn.

The pond held
a kaleidoscope
of colors and shapes:
great blue herons,
wild grapes, swarms
of mosquitoes, scaly-
tailed muskrats, lacewings,
and damselflies.

The pond held
wild berries:
tender and full.
The tingle
of their dark blood
stained my teeth
and tongue.

Their taste lingered.
Their seeds,
fragments of marrow,
would pass through
my body as if I
were a waxwing,
a bird, wavering
on a slender branch.

The pond kept me busy
with willow whistles,
largemouth bass,
and jumping frogs.
The pond kept
me from the dark
I had seen others in,
thick and murky
as the boot-sucking mud.

That summer
a friend of mine
was killed. His body
crushed. I came
to know wild plants
and tracking
through timber.
Bent leaf. Trace of hoof.
Musk. Scrapings.
The bed of grass,
still warm
from the fleeing deer.

• • •
Paul Brooke is a native Iowan who teaches creative writing and composition at Iowa State University in Ames. He is an avid outdoorsman who has worked as a naturalist and biologist in Minnesota, Washington, and Alaska. His first book is forthcoming from Pterodactyl Press entitled Strings: Two Yakima Women in the l880’s, and details the lives of two Indian women as they survive marriage, disease, birth, and death in Washington State. He is currently at work on another book on a Lakota woman named El Awachinpinwin, “A Woman Who Is Well Thought Of.” His poems have been published in various small journals, including Green Fuse, Explorations, Rocky Mountain Review, and Flyway.