Child Topography

          Here is where
            I climbed
     Steeply tilted hillsides
       Gnarled apple trees
         Fences of stone
      Nearly vertical stairs
          To my bedroom
      Ladders to the haymow
       Or up the silo chute

          Here is where
             I walked
       Through grasshoppers
          Pregnant corn
        Black-eyed susans
         Dust powder dry
         Dark ferny woods
            Muddy ooze
      Rock slippery streams

        Learning the earth
           With my feet
           And the life
         With my sinews.

              Here I
             Carried
   Pails of warm fragrant milk
     Soft downy newborn pigs
         Acrid fertilizer
           Bales of hay
     Buckets of gathered eggs
    Still smelling of the nest

              Here I
              Pulled
      The long hay rope back
    Weeds from the garden rows
       My body into my tree
         Milk-filled tits
      The emptied wagon rack
    Feathers from scalded hens

              Here I
              Pushed
   Corn stalks into the cutter
   Needles through garment hems
     My brother in his wagon
           The wet mop
     Across the kitchen floor
    The calves into their pens

        Learning the earth
           With my feet
          Learning life
         With my sinews.

          Here is where
             I search
      Time eroded landmarks
        Sun shimmered days
        Fields gone fallow
      Faint flitting echoes
            Unfamiliar
         Familiar places.

          Here is where
           I learn life
          With my heart.

- Ethel L. Ingalls
  1998

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