Odd Farmer


Time to feed the newt. Shrimp on a finger and a fleeting fear. A momentary loss
slips between distractions. What does time mean to a newt? I grow older while the
creature crawls up my finger. Odd. Pleasant. The lumbering crawl of bad horror movies,
the mechanical waddle of machines dragging through the swamp.
Once, many years before, a young boy, imitating a caterpillar, crawled under the
wheels of my parked truck. I went into the house to fix lunch and cut myself on the can
On the surface of my tongue the tiniest needles are drawing together the white mist
of the distant forest. The next time I open my mouth, the words clear a place in the trees.
I fold back the white blanket. I ask you in. I’m still asking you in.
If I can grow old enough, I could be the first. If I die young, I might live forever.
These words have feathers and they live in the swamp. I want to be responsible for the
stars, not quite eternal emissaries of lost causes.
Just then some friend clatters to a new position on my mountain. I’m standing there
considering an animal’s skull nailed to a fence post, something burning in the air, and the
odd light.
I read somewhere that caribou climb houses. Always in Asia they are dancing on
the roofs and climbing the houses. I don’t know why I remember this.
The words pour out, a clatter of shiny river rock beneath the ocean. On the
scholar’s grave, a dead sparrow. I try balance. I try a row of big toes next to a row of
But when the wind dies, the silence is uncovered. An arrangement of weeds inside
the dream of weeds.
A tapping in the courtyard. Like claws. Like a closing door. Like one stone placed
upon another.
Like the mute lives of ash in snow.
Like a secret endowment to the museum of breath.
And still no one notices a tree not falling.
Give it away, you earned it.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.