“Rye,” oil on canvas, by Ivan Shishkin, 1878.

by Justin Hunt

Home to help my mother clear our Kansas place,
I break for a Sunday morning walk:

south on Highway 49 and into open fields,
along the once-rutted trail over which my father

and grandfather herded cattle on horseback—
a century ago—then past the boneyard’s

cedar-lined sod, where my teammate Mike
has moldered since ’69, in dress army greens.

And I think of what it means to leave a childhood,
the death I’ll die when I shutter our house

and drive Mom away, though the wind on my face
is warm yet and summer-laced, and sagewort

shimmers the ditch and meadowlarks trill as I near
the one-mile corner, where an old farmer

in a dusty pickup wheels north onto the highway,
brakes after twenty yards and turns around,

pulls to a stop and steps out, calls to me by name,
shakes my hand and smiles. How’d you know

who I was? I ask. By the way you walk, he says.
This, to a man forty years gone.

Justin Hunt’s poetry has won several awards, most recently 1st place in the Porter Fleming Literary Competition, 2nd place in the River Styx and Strokestown (Ireland) international contests, and honorable mentions and commendations in numerous other competitions. Hunt’s work also appears or is forthcoming in Five Points, The Florida Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Solstice, and Barrow Street, among other publications.