Profit and Loss

hickmanBackhoes filled in the bog
between the hayfields and the creek
on what used to be our neighbor’s farm.
The Village at Oyster River sprang up
where cattails used to grow.
Now the creek has seeped into our woods;
water’s spread into our fields.
We dig ditches we didn’t use to need.
The marsh isn’t gone; it’s just found another way.

New neighbors who don’t know us
walk their dogs in the dirt lane
my father spent eighty years tending.
He filled in every rut that rain exposed,
scraped and packed it two thousand times,
made it smooth and hard as blacktop.
The new neighbors don’t know
what’s underneath their feet –
the strata of crushed stones
from the years our yields were high,
the make-do of pine shats, straw,
shards of oyster shells
from the drought years.

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