Fences

We aren’t native to this land.
 It’s time to plant what is. It’s time to go home.
from “Poem for a Daughter” by Lynn Melnick

They weren’t native to this land.
Their footsteps trod unfamiliar ground,

disappeared behind them into
the flat nowhere way back when.

Time came to plant, they built
poor man’s fences horse high,

bull strong, hog tight
Osage orange. strange shrubbery,

prickled their sleeves splintered hooves
that no machete could cut no

matches would burn so
there you have it:

miles and miles of hedge apple
borders left to us – squirrel mash

prairie fruit be-dashed.

Come October I feel a pull to ancestral fields,
thorny edge along

the 20 acre woods, and then remember
my grandmother’s Botany thesis:

Maclura Pomifera
those wrinkled balls

brain-like but dumb
and picture her young again,

seated on a felled log
a ray of sunlight warms

the inedible fruit in her hand
releases its citrus scent, and she sketches

what she sees until the light fades.
A supper bell rings,

beckons her back
over the new split rail

as she tosses her mysterious
litter to the ground

useless autumn fencerow
ornamental, bright green

against bending
yellow grass

Beth Lodge-Rigal