The smell of apples and what I thought was sage Smell of the wind like the smell of stars arching over a house planted halfway up the hill This is a love letter A dream of crickets and frogs, notes in the night Orchard quilt of apples and pears Laden limbs propped up by boards to keep from snapping
The sweet-musty dusk from a bucket of Lodis or Newtown Pippins by my grandmother’s back door In the dream, my love letter to Cleman Mountain, ridge we all called by the wrong name giant creature asleep at the valley’s far edge
Dream visits from the city Riding my cousin’s horse in borrowed shoes I lettered love by dead-heading lilacs, the clipped blooms in a heap Dream with tractors, sprayers, machinery growling around me The family histories tucked under my family myths
Things not talked of Water, owning, running into irrigation ditches The ditches replaced by sprinklers, their tch, tch, tch-ing that could spook a horse, bit in the teeth, tearing between the trees Land, owning, and the hands to prune, thin, pick, load the bins and truck them
Hands as a horse’s height, dirt to withers A hand as in writing Love letter to the dream land, dream life I have not lived If I could have hauled hay, mucked stalls and all that must be done, I don’t trust my hands now When I think of acreage, my fingers ache
Afraid I’ll drop the dream I save A life in love, the place I cannot claim Dream letter to say love grows, its roots inching down, branches gnarled by time and bearing
Joannie Stangeland is the author of several collections, most recently The Scene You See from Ravenna Press. She has received the Crosswinds Poetry Journal’s grand prize and the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Her poems have appeared in The MacGuffin, North Dakota Quarterly, Two Hawks Quarterly, SWWIM, New England Review, and other journals. She holds an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop.