More common than roses,
corn grew up with us in backyards and vacant lots
like so many neighborhood kids. On Sunday afternoon drives,
Dad could point out cornfields even when the tongues of shoots were
barely aboveground. By the time stalks resembled spines
and leaves waved to us in slow greeting,
he was already gauging acreage yields like the farmer
he used to be. In August his best friend Bob
loaded our Buick's trunk with bags of corn.
We shucked it on the back porch steps
while Mother set water to boil. Steam rose
from the platter on the supper table.
Night after night we mouthed corn like harmonicas.
We couldn't get enough of it.
Out on Jensens' farm we climbed up to the corncrib.
Sun sifted through the weathered boards; the ladder's wood
was rough. At the top of the ladder at the edge
of the crib, we scooped up handfuls of dusty
ocean. We had never seen the ocean.
We had never seen so much corn. It trickled
between our fingers, cooler and smoother than water.
We touched it again. We jumped.
The sudden cloud above the corn reminded us of breath
in winter. It drifted toward the rafters
where swallows rearranged their wings.
In the corn we swam in languid circles. We wore its sediment
like a second skin. Later someone told us
how we could have died there:
our bodies dragged down like reluctant stones,
our throats filled with dry air, then corn.

Poems by Melody Lacina:

Looking for Comet Hyakutake
On Seeing a Nude Self-Portrait of Imogen Cunningham

On the Telephone
What My Friend Says When She Gives Me a Persimmon

Coming Down Mount Etna
The Rock Above Cefalu
What I Believe In
Talking To God
After I Die

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets