Nathan Parker


Cold holes in the wheat where swallows
and clocks have hated each other. Shined on
by spoons and bullets. Lit with crust
and mint jam. Breathed on by man and wife.
The farmer set out one night with me.
His wife stayed home, picking stones
out of the butter, and out of the water.
I took a turn pushing the wheelbarrow
and he leapt in, perched on his knees—heels
supporting his iron farmer-butt—and gazed
at the forky hosts, milk immemorial, warm
drinks dribbling off the bare jaws of planets.
We shoveled brown flour into the wheelbarrow
and on the way home his tears made mud of it.



Last summer I had two kidneys removed (the good one that my mom gave me three summers ago is still in my stomach and kicking ass) and for three or four months after the surgery I wrote not a word. I just stared at ducks all day in Minnesota. Toast Forest is the first poem I wrote after the duck period.