Friday, July 21, 2006

"Corn" by Keith Harvey


Disguised as a crow, he discovered the cornfield nestled in a valley,
a trough of fertile land stretched between two thighs of hills west
of the red river and south of his first cave, where thousands of crows
circled above green stalks, chiseled into brightness against blue
skies, topped and heavy with maize. Watching the birds
he learned the lesson of the corn and soon he was tearing cobs
from the stalks and eating the white, red, and yellow kernels.
Having eaten his fill he gathered corn in his arms and returned to her;
and, even though it was he that discovered the grain, it was she that saw
its importance and after she had eaten her fill she gathered their possessions
and forced him to move their camp to the hills above the field.
Once there she named it mother because the field nourished them
as she nourished her firstborn from her breasts. She took charge
of the field and told her son that he would be a man of the corn
rather than a febrile crow man like the other, his father.
The son listened carefully and called her corn-mother, confusing the two.

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