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M A Y   1 9 9 6

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PASSED ON

by Erin Belieu


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He lived in a sod house,
a formal nest of grass
that wove green thread
around his soul, a bed
of mud and cellulose.

And she was small. She
never grew; the empty
wind that blew and reared
had bent her to the plains she cared
so little for. But he,

he didn't seem to mind
her size, he'd found
a shape to love there;
and she was spare where
he was generous as sand, the kind

of man who drifted
like the yellow hills that lifted their
sloping shoulders to the bad
lands. For her, his mud
heart tumbled like the tufted

weeds that wheel along the plains,
that sea of mammoth bones,
that state all made of sky--
they married in July.
Her thin bouquet of corn

flowers remains the brightest thing
he'd ever see. I have her ring
now, a silver band so little
it won't slip over the knuckle
on my finger. How long

ago, a man gave his grass
soul to her in her brown dress--
and she was always stern,
too small and learned
to keep inside a sod house.



Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 1996; Passed On; Volume 277, No. 5; page 102.

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