There has to be a tree. There has to be
a sky. There has to be a chicken-hawk
skating the dust rising out of a thresher.
A ploughboy walking with a turtle
in the head-high corn. There has to be a pool
with a swirly slide entering the water.
A chain-link cut by the field where I took
Kerri-Ann to the river when the river
was flooded. A burnt knife lettering
her knee. And a song being played—
All the girls are gone, All the head-strong
good country girls are gone—from the window
of a painted Accord. Her father standing drunk
in the screen porch watching us dance.
There has to be light falling into his body.
And a muskie we pull from the mud puddles
under the tracks. A reason we throw it
in the pool where it wobbles and floats
in the shivering wave-lines. Her father still
watching us dance in his sleep. There has to be
a fight, a cross-fade of landscape surrounding
those liquor-marked breaths. Him catching
her thigh. The two of them wishing to god
they were drunker. And the black lines
of telephone wires rise quiet as old men
or grocery store crosses. The scarecrow
in silhouette losing its face in the hyper-
colored dust and the clouds. There has to be
light. And a circling car. And a song
moving out of his body like something
he names. A chicken-hawk rising
on dust trails over the ditch where the boy
now plays. The river still flooded.
The dissipated clouds in late-day in awe
of their own color fading. There has to be
a flood. And a promise of love. And a fish
in the pool, and the pool gone dark
where the turtle glides under the leaves.