|The Backyard Farmer
When you set out plants in Nebraska
you take your chances: heat,
drought, floods from above
and from salty rivercourses.
If you’re lucky, the aphids burn up
and the cabbage moths go elsewhere,
and no tree falls on your garden,
and no tornado moves your porch there.
So you weed and water, fretting
about mulch and mold and leaf rust.
And tomatoes swell and redden,
flattening their scarlet weight
into the meager shade of curling leaves;
purple eggplants darken, glowing
beside peppers ripening red
as midwinter hollyberries.
We devour the tomatoes sweet and warm
from the vines, roast and oil
peppers of all colors, revel
in the juices of this bounty,
and try to ignore the knowledge
that they’ve cost us sweat and worry,
gray hairs, and seven dollars a pound.
Stephen C. Behrendt’s third collection of poetry is grounded in the belief that what sustains us through generations is the accumulation of stories, tales, and artifacts passed on to us by individuals who lived fully and passionately. As in the poet’s previous collections, Instruments of the Bones (1992) and A Step in the Dark (1996), History is deeply Romantic in head and heart. These new meditative poems insist on the continuity of life that unites us all by examining “Minute Particulars” in moments of doubt and affirmation. Told from a variety of perspectives, Behrendt’s poems gently remind us that history is a living, breathing thing. From it, we may draw dignity, vitality, strength, and permanence.
"Behrendt's words flow as they call up details that take beautiful shape in the reader's mind. … [His] poetry finds its greatest asset in fine details."—Daily Nebraskan