Lease

A dusty piece of paper at the bottom of boxes
that rattled down the highway with me
from one place to the next
as I moved East,
said “Mineral Lease,
Lincoln County Oklahoma.”

Wasn’t worth one red hard earth cent,
but let me keep title I suppose
to the stories of families coming through
our ranch in Colorado,
A lease on my mother’s telling
what she saw of the Grapes of Wrath.

A claim too maybe on what lay below the topsoil
that blew away like the people –
what can’t be moved, but only extracted
like gold from the teeth of uncles
buried quickly
and left behind.

I made up tales my grandfather
won it in a poker game,
or took it as payment for a meal
at the back door,
but its origin as dark without genesis
as the sky

to the people of New York City
when it dimmed on Black Sunday,
in the Dust Bowl of ’35,
sky the color of deeds
done in wind
and grit.



For Miz Quickly

5 thoughts on “Lease

  1. Great voice in this and the word choices (rattled, one red hard earth cent, grit) add to the same. Love having the title to the family stories – or are they simply on loan…? I especially enjoy how the voice changes as does the longitude.

    Like

  2. Goodness. So much to love here.
    This:
    “what can’t be moved, but only extracted
    like gold from the teeth of uncles
    buried quickly
    and left behind.”

    And OH, this:
    sky the color of deeds
    done in wind
    and grit.

    Liked by 1 person

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