Upstate New York
Light approaches the field.
In the dewy silence the woman
Is waking from dreams and leaving the cabin.
Drinking coffee, she picks up her knife
And looks across the lines of arugula, cabbages,
Broccoli. This morning she eats no food.
She moves towards the lines of vegetables
She planted, distinct now in the morning field,
And bends to slice the stems of cabbages.
I came because there is magic, the woman
Reminds herself, in something this good cut by the knife
In one’s hand. Beside her the cabin
Is quiet on the lip of the hill—her cabin
Sheltered by trees dug in with the first crops.
When she came with her books and her gardening knife
Living here and tending this field
Was the most important thing the woman
Could imagine. She planted butterhead cabbages.
Now she strokes the heads of cabbages
With warming fingers while the cabin
Watches. It has been days since the woman
Had visitors to share her food,
To see the sprouts of carrots changing in the field,
The basil calling for water against the bright knife
Light. People to tell. She catches her finger on the knife
As she packs up delicate white cauliflowers and cabbages—
Boston is too far away from this field,
She thinks. But the boxes wait by the vigilant cabin.
The supply truck comes from the city for the week’s food.
The driver pauses briefly to talk to the woman
Before driving into the dust. And the woman
Works on in zigzags, till darkness falls like a knife
Into the valley. And then, among her plots of food,
The woman talks: Coriander and dandelion, kale and cabbages.
She reaches the steps of the cabin.
She does not go in but stands on in her field.
It is no longer food I am hungry for, thinks the woman,
The dark field grows thin as a knife,
Heads of cabbages rock beside the shrinking cabin.
Now suddenly she can hardly stand
she is in her city again and the wind
is sharp. She is inside a house,
somehow she lives here now.
Now she is wondering how she is
to find the numbers people go by,
she is wondering which way to walk.
Now she can hardly stand suddenly
the house seems easier than the city.
She is wondering where she will eat,
in which room to put her desk,
she is wondering how to sit.
Despite the pink stems of rhubarb
in the garden and the flowers
on the walls she can hardly stand.
She is wondering how to get
to the city from the house.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ingrid Horrocks published a travel-historical book, Travelling with Augusta, with Victoria University Press earlier this year. She grew up on farms north of Auckland and in the Wairarapa, and is a graduate of Victoria University. She now lives in New Jersey where she is a graduate student at Princeton University.