Holly Painter

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Canterbury Plains

The wheat's a freeze frame of beige rain
Quivering above the drive, improbably vertical
Terrestrial tassels strung up by an invisible thread
Stretched a hundred million miles to the hydrogen
Gaslamp drifting overhead behind a slow loping
Pilgrimage of chastely white clouds
I swagger below, the American farmboy I never was
In a chest level canopy of Queen Anne's lace
Or Queen Anne's snowflakes, perhaps
Something fractal, like the ferns further upcountry
Curled up green comb-racks for comb-racks
For combs
The highland cattle in shaggy summer misery
Frame me in their trapezoidal horns, a trespasser
Launching into friendly kiwi airspace a foreign missile:
A red, white, and scuffed, cork and leather piece of home
A Rawlings baseball, falling in tight geometry to
The spanksound pocket of my glove
The donkeys notice me, and look up quizzically
Like grey uniformed generals awaiting bad news
Ferdinand and Francesca leave their rusty tent
Their hairy, corrugated scratching post and
Flick forward their ears, thick and steady as my forearm
And hot under my fingernails
Southpaw sandwiched in cowhide, I walk back
Clapping the ball with its smudges of donkey dust
Pitching it high in a sky where it doesn't belong
Though it looks just the same, a fat little bird
Darting for a darker blue, a grander view
Its underbelly in shadow

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