March 17th

Gerald Stern

BPR 45 | 2018

My song of the pea has me
and my wife carefully pouring
the packet of dry seeds
into the water holes
the river on one side the
canal on the other the
soil perfect for early peas
the wind scarring our bare ankles
our thighs wracked with pain—
as it has me planting my walking stick
into the high ground and the roots taking hold
and ripping it out when the first peas appear—
not to forget the great snow of the early ’90s
the day after I bought two bicycles
to welcome in the spring
the ice on the water a foot thick—
as it was in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day
in an Irish bar lecturing my poor son
on potatoes and him trying to shut me up— as
it was—I remember—in Kansas State
a one-man show and a private showing
of Thomas Hart Benton’s work the docent
hinting at a certain closeness between her and
the master the wife as I recall
after his extensive travels throughout the state
only saying, “My husband is a great painter”—
the Russian sage smelling the same everywhere
my fingers savoring the odor.