To Understand the Taste of Dirt

          -After Yona Harvey

I must go back to my father’s long stride through the beehives,
my grandfather’s descent into coal. It seems right to stop
along the road and study the morning glories in the ditch.
The day is humid with lust and my skin aches for it.
The field ants sense this with their patterned searching,
the morning glories with their ever-wanton reach.
The dirt furrows out to the skyline, the corn pushing through
like a goddamn birthright. To understand, I must go back
to a simple fermenting hunger—the craving of nitrogen and sugar—
and step into the chigger-rush of ancient weeds.

Second Prize in Poetry
2020 Stubborn Writers Contest

Jen Ashburn is the author of the The Light on the Wall (Main Street Rag, 2016), and has work published in nu- merous venues, including The Writer’s Almanac, Pedestal and New Ohio Review. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, and lives in Pittsburgh.