Lucinda Atkins

Two Hundred Years Farming in This County

A rusted out yard-car,
right next to the washing machine
whose wringer has waited
for close to eighty years
for its cycle to end,
just down the road
in front of a former well-to-do man’s
expansive porch.

Its alligatored gingerbread
swings away from the overhang
if the wind blows up hard
and squeaks its way back
when it shifts to the south —
all for the want of a nail
and a few minutes time
from the first
procrastinating fool
ignoring the plea
of a journeyman’s labor.

A blindness of maybe
four shoeless tractors waits in patience
for their working brother to join them
in an obsolescence of need.
Chickens peck through hay-bales
circling the foundation.
Placed and forgotten decades ago,
they were meant to keep damp from
seeping through widening cracks
and rotting some summer’s potatoes,
chilblains from winter feet.

Some wag has defaced
the cow-crossing sign.
He’s painted an enormous gut
on the farmer… jaunty atop
a perfect enamel specimen…
a remonstrance to
those rotting away in the front yard.

I saw the wife only once
as I drove on by:
a sinewy bit of a thing
of indeterminate age.
She turned her face away
when she saw that I could see.


I want ease.
long for the perfect
streaming platform
the perfect compilation
of empty and
contextual nothing
to make me forget
make me impervious
to vertical sleeping whales
in dying seas.

Lucinda Atkins is a native New Yorker and a professional musician who has performed in the United States and Western as well as Eastern Europe. She now lives in Columbia County, New York, and is currently working on a novel about the New York immigrant experience in the twentieth century.