In your next letter, please describe
the weather in great detail. If possible,
enclose a fist of snow or mud,
everything you know about the soil,
how tomato leaves rub green against
your skin and make you itch, how slow
the corn is growing on the hill.
Thank you for the photographs
of where the chicken coop once stood,
clouds that did not become tornadoes.
When I try to explain where I’m from,
people imagine corn bread, cast-iron,
cows drifting across grass. I interrupt
with barbed wire, wind, harvest air
that reeks of wheat and diesel.
I hope your sleep comes easy now
that you’ve surrendered the upstairs,
hope the sun still lets you drink
one bitter cup before its rise. I don’t miss
flannel shirts, radios with only
AM stations, but there’s a certain kind
of star I can’t see from where I am—
bright, clear, unconcerned. I need
your recipes for gravy, pie crust,
canned green beans. I’m sending you
the buttons I can’t sew back on.
Please put them in the jar beside your bed.
In your next letter, please send seeds
and feathers, a piece of bone or china
you plowed up last spring. Please
promise I’m missing the right things.
~Carrie Shipers, “In Your Next Letter” from Cause for Concern
For our children (and now their children) who have left the farm, now living far away:
I want to be sure you are missing the right things about this incredible place.
There is so much about a farm that is worrisome, burdensome, back-breaking and unpredictable. Don’t miss those things.
Miss what is breath-taking, awe-inspiring and heart-swelling.
We miss you more than we can ever say, indeed an intensive “missing” that can’t be expressed in words. So I send this to you and you’ll understand.