David Shumate serves a Poet-in-Residence at Marian University and lives in Zionsville, Indiana. He has published two books of prose poems, High Water Mark and The Floating Bridge (University of Pittsburgh Press.)
The bank gives you thirty days to clear out. Though for allegorical effect you wish it were forty.
And came with a flood. Some neighbors commiserate. Others calculate what your acreage is
worth. One night you drive your tractor out along the highway until it runs out of gas. You walk
home and drive your combine the opposite way until it too stalls. You pull up the turnips. Cut
the cabbages and set them by the barbershop door. You sell the china. The bed you were born in.
Your grandmother’s paintings of this land. You have a last meal. As if you were some kind of
Christ. At midnight you back the trailer up to the barn and load the livestock in. Next morning
when the bankers ride the elevators up to the eleventh floor, your cattle and pigs and sheep and
roosters and hens and goats are waiting in their offices. Eating from the bales of hay that now
belong to the bank. Depositing manure liberally upon their carpets. Regarding the shrieking
secretaries with blank stares. Another surprise awaits the president who signed the eviction
papers. The mirrored doors of his private elevator open. Inside, your prize bull snorts and tosses
its horned head. Provoked by the executive’s cologne. His starched shirt. His bright red tie.
The coat draped over his arm like a cape.
The Indiana Humanities Council is posting poems on Think.Read.Talk. by Hoosier poets in celebration of National Poetry Month. Other Indiana celebrations include poetry readings at the Artsgarden (above the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets, Indianapolis), performed each Monday at 12:15 p.m. For a schedule of events, click here.