Retrospective

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What carried us from year to year was yield:
potatoes in, potatoes out, like rowing.
Fist-sized, firm, rich-tasting and abundant—
of such abundance we could eat them all
winter long and have some left for seed.
It seemed holy even then, to harvest
red and russet, shake the moist earth
from the tuber, feel its heft and lob
it on the pile soon to be transported
to the fruit room (dirt floor and damp cement,
tomatoes on the vine, apples, potatoes).
An earthy flourish of the immanent.

Spring, and quartering the rest to plant,
one eye, at least, per chunk. Father crouched
over the hoe. When did I learn to see
paternal love in seed potatoes planted
with a grunt? Or catechism in the rhythm
beat out as he sowed, tamping down the dirt?

Geri Doran's first collection of poems, Resin, received the 2004 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Doran lives in northern California.
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