Osage oranges fall thump in bright green circles
deer at dusk will come to forage.
Beside the house, a barrage of walnut husks
onto the gravel: ping ping ping.
Jeanette said she quickly learned rat-tat
rebel guns from eh-eh government ones.
Holed up in her home, huddled against
her bedroom wall, she knew which side
shot into the air, signaling.
up-country near the final rebel checkpoint
rat-tat there meant someone taken
into the rubber trees and killed.
During her year of Red Cross rice,
groveling for G-2 passes,
her pallet on the hut’s dirt floor,
she said the rat-tat she never got used to.
Nor could she eat the little river fish,
no matter how delicious, for the thought
of the bodies they themselves had eaten.
ping thump thump.
Wendell Hawken (she/her), a Washington DC native, earned her MFA in Poetry at the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers. Publications include three chapbooks and five full collections: The Luck of Being (2008), White Bird (2017) a sequence about her husband’s battle with cancer, Stride for Stride: A Country Life (2020), After Ward (2022), and All About (January 2023). Hawken lives on a grass farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley where the first meaning of AI is Artificial Insemination. Two dogs keep her company. She is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Millwood, VA, a quirky unincorporated village in Clarke County.