“Quarter a ear,” she says,
“I’ll shuck it for a extra nickel.”
She needs the nickel more than I—
the accent hard and guttural,
back of the throat—haven’t the heart
to say shucking it is my favorite part.
The soggy bill I hand her, walletworn,
damp from a mosquito summer, still smells
of Cutter—Midwest fingers grasp it,
a Midwest nose turns up: “Got no change,”
“I don’t need change.” The nose again.
I know it well—I’m from here.
“Not from here, are ya.” She doesn’t pose it
as a question, and I don’t know if I should answer.
At some indeterminate juncture,
I became such a stranger to this town
that a single dollar divides me
from her sweating iced tea glass,
boarded window on the farm-facing side,
shutter sagging down to the Red Cedar watertable,
sign: For Sale by Owner crowding out Quarter a Ear
Sharpied onto the road-faced side of
an orange crate.
She folds back the green canoe,
expertise of a farmer; little hairs like wiry tentworms
spring forth into the wind, miss the safety
of their husk, their cradle. In one grab,
their necks are snapped and loosed to a gust.
Corn, tall grasses across the acres, wave with it,
For Sale sign creaks, husk hairs land on my
shirt. The dollar billows from the table—
Faster than the breeze,
she swipes for it, both hands in desperation—
My ear falls to Michigan earth,