Yvonne Higgins Leach
I. The Children
Eyes of the peasant children cast
into the one bowl of watery porridge.
Spoons dive and dunk,
They have no knowledge of a God.
Only the peat fire smoldering,
dank room, feeble light
through the door,
their mother’s apron on the floor.
II. The Mother
She goes to find their father.
On the ridge, struck down, his knees imprint
the earth, head bent against the portrait of deep blue fog.
There’s something wrong with our potatoes!
Stiffly, she stoops and pulls a stalk into the air.
She grips a single potato
and her fingers are slime,
her hands a sudden black torrent.
The violent stench of rot.
The abomination of mess in the gaping hole.
He does not stir. He lies babbling.
The rows of hell now curling and nipping at her feet,
she flees, like a madwoman, down the tormented ridge
to fetch her rosary.
III. The Father
In the trick of pre-dawn light, he leaves his family
haggard on straw beds. His walk to the splintered ridge
is his vigil, yet he fears a dreaded day. He spikes the spade into the soil
and the onslaught of ruined potatoes pulls up like mud.
The bloated tubers bleed some kind of muck
between his fingers. He stands and turns
toward the edgeless horizon and, with out-flung arms,
pleads to the unholy sky to answer him—
his question of what to do with this intractable life.
Yvonne has lived in Washington State her entire life and is currently living in both Spokane and on Vashon Island.