The air at 4:30 is cool and lightless, the Moon is waning gibbous, low in the south in Capricornus, and in the southwest, Jupiter is descending in Ophiuchus. And Mother came to see the tiger lilies yesterday, they are blooming beside the pond, marking the farm’s July. The blossoms hung, orange and burnt red, above their tousled beds, mirrored in the water of a sultry, hazy day. I maneuvered her through the heavy grass, brought her as close as I could, and she stood, gazing at the flowers silently and gripping her cane with her face set stiff and grim. We stood there balanced as though together on a precarious scale, and then she muttered, That’s enough. Slowly I guided her back to the yard. She waited for me to hobble round and bring her car from the shade of the barn, like a bent post in the sun of the day.
I will gather stone and make a cairn this winter for my father. So I took the truck up the mountain and got it loaded, pulled up stones out of the black woods dirt that smells of trees. The biggest I can lift, some rounded, some flat, some jutted by sharp grips. I use an old chisel for prying sometimes. Stones give out a crack if they knock together when I throw them on the truck but I try not to let them do that. A few crickets still were singing under the leaves. The shadows had risen by the time I had the load, but I heard a saw going on the road below so I had a smoke and waited, night chill coming on through the trees. Then I went down, the truck creaked and sagged and no lights on but the Moon came up and the twigs screeching alongside make good guides.
Richard Winters runs Two Winters Woods, a small Pennsylvania farm with ventures including firewood, evergreen shrubs and publishing small books drawn from the farm and mountains. The farm will have us always is based on excerpts from the 2017 novella Sawhorse. Forthcoming are additional chapbooks and a series of stories titled Hillborn. He tweets @2WintersWoods
Photographs (including header image) by Richard Winters