The world we all came from reaches out; its trees
                                             embrace; its rocks come down ready to cover
                                             us again. Moss clings to the feet and climbs
                                             carefully, protecting its own. It wants us back.

                                                                – William Stafford (“Over the Mountains”)

A moment’s escape, I scaled the fence, left the sand box
to the feral cats for the voices of men in the vineyard,
toward the purring of the 8N Ford pulling a wagonload
of grape stakes, toward the loud camaraderie of unshaven
Okies in faded bibs—‘Can’t Bust Em’ before I could read.

Cross arms and wire, box of staples and galvanized braces,
hatchets, hammers and cast iron mallets, tools and men edging
down each dormant vine row, drawing me, one gray December
day to leave my comfort and reach for some unique conceit,
ever-reminded of cat-killing curiosity, I stepped lightly

after the wagon wheel turned over one of my U.S. Keds,
soft cultivated loam beneath them both. It doesn’t matter
now that I swore I’d never tell my father, or what drew me
away from the fields under the guise of education, or how
my parents tried to raise me like a crop, worth something,

or why I returned to the ground that reached out to hold me,
to pull me safely within its vital truth and maze of intricacies.
That world I came from owns me now, keeps me busy believing
in more than man has built for God or profit, for speed
or convenience, just to become obsolete—it wants us back.

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