Durum wheat’s taller

this summer, or else

the Ropp widow is


shrinking. She never

kicks the feral cats

anymore, just glares


down at her sandals,

their dermis of mud

growing one unfelt


layer more real with

every step. Frowning

to remember words


next to the burned out

barn, she stops to spit

a hex at the half-


bus, twice daily puff

of fumes and special

children. As soon as


the combine turns east

for Minot – bin-dried

grain settling yet in


folded steel – she will

follow its raw voice.

The hardest of wheats,


Triticum durum,

she will tire and seep

unsaved and unspool.



Originally published in Prairie Schooner