A Pastoral

Tim DeJong

Facts are safer than ideas.
This morning I woke to the realization
we can live anywhere we want.

In the den I suffered through my sit-ups,
a flood of sunlight pinning
my sweating body to the floor.

I found you in the sleepless garden,
tearing roots out of the ground,
dark soil in your hair. We painted our tongues

with the bright blood of beets
as your herbs flowered violently in the window.
I can’t remember how we got here.

Without supermarkets we’d all wither and die.
At the drive-thru you cried and I
touched your face to make it seem

as though I understood. The fries
were soggy and wilted. I wished it would rain.
You baked rhubarb pies and I threw bread

to the squirrels in the cemetery. Life bursts
up from cracks in the concrete.
If the world is round, we’re all separated

by curves and not by straight lines.
It’s said the greatest part of every tree
is underground, which means trees would be

icebergs if the land were an ocean,
this city a lake for the lights of our small ships,
these paved streets the rivers we swim in.

Tim DeJong is a doctoral candidate in English at Western University in London, Ontario, where he is currently researching the role of sympathy in postwar American poetry. He is the 2010 winner of the Marguerite R. Dow Canadian Heritage Award in Creative Writing, and his work has been published in the journal ESC: English Studies in Canada.