Stranded ankle-deep in snow,
the tall poles of the hops field
sketch runes on the winter sky.
Wind across the river bottom
aches with lonely ghosts exhumed
from brown and dog-eared histories.
Trying to snap a photo, I’m caught
in the breath of invisible worlds.
You hide your smile in the car
while I brace myself on absence,
my tough Norwegian sweater
armoring my vitals but leaving
my intellect exposed. The river,
sulking just beyond the field,
clings to its identity despite
the chill blown down from Canada.
The hills beyond look tired
of being hills, but lack volition.
In summer the hops grow
twenty-five feet up these poles.
They love the aerated valley soil,
rich and iron-red. Their bines
get plenty of support from rope
or wires, their ripe cones filling
with powdery gold lupulin.
You don’t care about the fine points
of growing hops and brewing beer
but prefer to face the low orange sun
and embrace its tender lessons.
The wind flicks little gouts of snow
dancing across the rutted slick.
As I take my photo I glimpse,
in the whorl of my bad eye,
a bit of ghost-green lingering—
an overlap of dimensions
that defines us despite ourselves.