Pumpkin Patch

Christmas, 2009 / No. 23

The farmer’s wife does not wait

for the round green heads to ripen

before she walks into the field,

presses her chisel relentlessly,

carving the name of each child,

all eight, into hard rind.

The still-attached umbilicals

keeping the family together for a time.

She returns at the end of the season, takes inventory,

sees which succumbed to frost and is now half-rotted,

which to mildew or mole.

And the few fiery skulls left—

fattened on late-August sun—

the two that make it through

from seed to her hand,

to oven, then seed again.