Here’s a pretty cool email that landed in my inbox today:
“This month marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of Plum Tree Tavern. As is traditional at the joint, I have selected my favorite pieces posted over the past year in a special volume. Entitled simply, Selections Plum Tree Tavern Volume Five, the poems and photographs are collected at this location https://selectionsplumtreefive.blogspot.com/ A link to the work can also be found under the “Plum Blossoms” section in the right hand column of the Plum Tree Tavern home site.“
One of my poems was selected. And that’s pretty cool. “Land Inventory” a poem about the family farm. Click on the link and scroll through the journal. There are some really good pieces and nice visuals. If you click the above link and scroll down to Sunderland, you’ll find ‘Land Inventory’ a poem about the family farm. Or you can just read it below. But take some time to check out the journal, too.
by Janet Sunderland
The county appraiser sent a questionnaire
and a topography map, wants me to update
our family farm value, asks about changes
to acreage or productive capability of the land.
Ignore the appraiser’s flat gray map, see,
instead, the sapphire sky, white-striped
like zebras in Grandpa’s National Geographic.
Airplanes flying high to Africa or China maybe.
Walk the field of milo – stacked red heads
flaming on emerald stalks. With one swift swing
of the machete, sever a sunflower’s head,
wipe sticky black resin from the blade –
The map won’t show Great Simba, now rotted
to a termite’s meal, won’t capture hazy afternoons
we picked gooseberries, or our clamber up
the peeling bark to ride a gray husk to India.
Legends lie hidden in the appraiser’s map—stories
held by the wind, borne by cottonwood seeds, flung
free, as we were all flung free. Memory our property.
I sign the questionnaire; affirm no changes to the land.