Field Shed

by Nick Norwood

Wedged between the ribbed, rhomboid shapes
of a pair of cotton patches,
a corrugated canteen, its back
to the farm-to-market road, its maw
gaped to the furrows. Inside
a tumble of five-gallon cans, quart jugs.
Fifty-five-gallon drums, like stanchions,
stationed in a corner. Their death fumes
channel under the slant roof
like copperheads under a quilt. Come home
on the cotton farmer’s clothes.
He walks in a vapor, drags it like a mean spirit
a half step behind. Where he stops it hovers.
His father’s harness hangs on a wall.
An empty oil drum holds twenty-seven
red-handled hoes, chewed-down, dry-cracked.
Dirt floor. No windows.
Outside, ditched in the weeds:
tractor parts, plow, thresher.
Yellow jackets angle under the eaves.
A stray’s kitten fumbles with a bottle cap.

NICK NORWOOD’s third full volume of poems, Gravel and Hawk, won the Hollis Summers Prize in Poetry and was published by Ohio University Press in 2012. His poems have appeared widely, including in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Shenandoah, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Poetry Daily, on the PBS News Hour site Art Beat, and on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. He is currently a professor of creative writing and the director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University.