Touch: The Journal of Healing



Land Inventory

    by Janet Sunderland

The county appraiser sent a questionnaire

and a topography map, wants me

to update the value of our family's farm,

asks if there are changes to the acreage

or productive capability of the land.

I ignore the appraiser’s flat gray map,

see, instead, a sapphire sky, white-striped

like the zebras I knew in my grandpa’s

National Geographic. Airplanes fly

high to Africa – or China maybe.

I walk the field of milo -  bezeled red heads

flaming on green stalks. With one swing

of my machete, I sever a sunflower’s head,

wipe sticky black resin from my blade –

I was sixteen and had no date for Saturday night.

His map won’t show Great Simba in the pasture

now rotted to a termite's meal – won’t capture

the hazy afternoons Mom sent us for gooseberries,

wild, near the giant’s side. We clambered up

the peeling husk to ride gray bark to India.

Our legends lie hidden in the appraiser’s map –

stories held by the wind, borne by cottonwood seeds,

flung free, as we were all flung free. Memory

the real property of life.  I sign the questionnaire;

affirm we’ve made no changes to the land.

© 2011 Janet Sunderland

Janet Sunderland lives in Kansas City with her husband Cliff Kroski. Her work has appeared in The Writer, KC Voices, The Rockhurst Review, Lalitamba,, Imago Dei, and others. She’s an instructor at Avila University and Longview Community College and is completing a spiritual memoir, Standing at the Crossroad.

Copyright © 2011

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.