Allegory Obscurely Stirs
by Oliver Rice
Oliver Rice

Oliver Rice has received the Theodore Roethke Prize and thrice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies in the United States, as well as Canada, Argentina, England, Austria, Turkey, and India. His book of poems, On Consenting to Be a Man, is offered by Cyberwit, a diversified publishing house in the cultural capital Allahabad, India, and is available on Amazon.

Here at the crossroads
are eight nondescript houses
and a store with gas pumps in front.
The way north and south is graveled,
east and west dirt,

going toward Crooked Creek,
Ebenezer Church.

Look how the pastures
and the fields of stubble
rise and slope into hollows.
See how the brush tangles and thickens.
See where the mink has made a den
in the bank under the fallen oak.
Hear the gnats.

An engine sounds
from the farmstead
with a weathercock on the barn.
Or the one at the top of the hill
from which others are visible.

Where the slop for the hogs
simmers on the back of the stove,

the cattle scratch themselves
against the fence posts,

the boy has promised himself to stay
until his mother dies.

Where on a Sunday night
the damaged woman rocks,
silent as the roosting hens,
the cabbages ripening,
and the pears.

The teaspoons worn thin as paper.

A rifle hanging over the kitchen door.

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