V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Why have I kept them all this time—those two scythes
hanging up there, that were never mine, that I never learned
how to use, never wielded, in an age of power lawnmowers?

One I found in '72 while prowling through an old barn
about to be torn down. Took it the way someone walking
along a beach picks up a smooth stone. It belonged to no one.

The other was left in a mass of debris swept together
after the auction, after my father died: things no one would buy,
stuff the auctioneer's men were loading to haul to the dump.

Wooden-handled scythes—sinuous curve and subtle torque,
shafts made of ash and tapered, permanently bent; long
shallow blades, deeply fluted, flaking with rust. They hang

side by side on a two-by-four hook, high up in the rafters,
where the light from the windows barely reaches them.
I leave them there, and begin to sweep up the dust and leaves.


© by Jared Carter


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