Photo, Nicholas Kahn

A Driftless Son

It came to me to sell the family farm,
shift its failures to a man who planned

to occupy the place for recreation,
to hunt the deer that spook and shadow in the pines,

my job to consign to another my granddad’s stunted grove
of walnuts planted—against the forester’s advice—

with his hired man Tiny, who died
by stepping in front of a train, though first he roped

his dog Bear to a nearby tree, tacking on a note
that read “Take Care Off Me.” Does anyone

remember this fat fact—a loaf of toast and a dozen eggs
was Tiny’s daily breakfast meal? Give it

to me. I’ll remember that bit too. I fished
that muddy pond just once, its manurey slurry

slipped downstream
from the Tulius brothers’ hogs,

shot the one buck trophied on my wall
whose crippled hoof had slowed him

dangerously down. In town again
I pulled the locks off all the doors of the barn—

empty now, October now,
the deer not yet come to any harm.