Olive Wood by Linda Caldwell Lee

“…a material which neither decay, nor weather, nor time can harm…” -Vitruvius

A man in a brown suit drives a rented Mercedes,
through a tunnel of olive trees. He smells the earth
that used to crumble in his callused hands,
remembers the crunch of coarse bread.
A young farmer rides the threshing board, the ox pulls,
the broken heads of wheat are left for the woman.

With a winnowing fork she tosses kernels to the wind,
her heavy skirt swaying, the hulls taken in a dull cloud.
Farms, he thinks, are thumbtacks on the map of the world,
holding everything in place.

At home in Chicago, he hears sirens,
the rush of traffic carried in the push of wind.
The lake heaves, his shirt billows. When he tries
to change his accent, his tongue aches.

He imagines the woman’s blown hair, the drifting chaff.
Massaging the hand he used to sign away his birthright,
he lifts his grandfather’s olive wood flute and blows
notes to a tune he can almost remember.


Linda Caldwell Lee has been writing poems for a long time now and ought to send out more of them. Some have turned up recently in Tipton Poetry Review, So It Goes, and Imagine This: an ArtPrize Anthology. Others have been in Flying Island, New Laurel Review, and Hopewell Review. She has a chapbook: What Happiness Required.

 

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