This week, a poem by Tory Adkisson.


Watch how he lessens
his gait. The brim of his hat
tilts slightly, a halo

of salt encircling
his brow, just visible in the shadows.
I’m attracted to the metal

rivets of his tractor. It wallows in oil
before meticulously picking
through the cornfield, one

stalk at a time. I’m new to this
whole idea of harvesting.
The desert I love is full of needles

& no one ever picks them.
The moon’s seasonal orange
has never been, for me, a mask

celebrating the coming
winter. Here the leaves change
color, wither,

& die. Nature reminds us, not too
subtly, that this is what we all do.
For now this boy will have to hold

my attention. I’ve watched him
change along with the weather,
his summer tank top

gilded with sweat. His spring
jersey, autumn wool & flannel.
Still the strain of work

persists like a flame. Still the sweat
persists, the crotch of his jeans
stretching thin, the stench

of manure & compost caked
into his boot heels. The exact point
of hunger, the soles

I must follow. Some nights
he’s alien. Like the moon,
he doesn’t notice me idly

paging through a book. Some nights
he doesn’t notice he’s the one
who’s smiling.


TORY ADKISSON recently earned his MFA from The Ohio State University and recently has had work featured in Cave Wall, Linebreak, and 32 Poems. A Southern California native, he currently lives in Athens, where he attends the PhD program in literature and creative writing at the University of Georgia.

“First Harvest” was first published in Toad. It appears here with permission.

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