"The Sorry-Making Machines" Issue

Don Thompson

Romanini's Pistachio Grove

More or less, half the leaves have fallen:
a tentative, and if it were us,
thoughtful coming to terms
with barrenness.

Look closely and you see nostalgia
for dust, despite rain last week.
And even after a freeze,
the leaves are dry and brittle,
as if scorched in August...

Sooner or later, you notice these things
and begin to respect
how long the trees hold on,
how the year always dies hard.

Elk Grove Ranch

This old ewe has been fleeced
with dull shears, ribs and hipbones
showing through her slack, manure–tinted skin.

Yes—in a panic she'd shove into a clump
and run, bleating; but for now,
she closes in on herself,
chews stubble and ignores the flock
as if alone for once—

taking some me-time
while the lambs dance around her
on jittery stiff legs.