William Duffy’s Hammock Was Strung Between Two Trees

a forecast for a centenary of James Wright's poem

Well, now. Now. Sitting here in the shade
of air conditioning
in the middle of a prosthetic new century
what can I know now of William Duffy’s farm?
Of William Duffy?

When have I last seen a farm
owned by someone with a human name? Or face?
When have I smelled hay inside
a pine-sided red-painted barn?
What do I know of Pine Island Minnesota?

Is there still a pine on the island? How many?
In what geography is the island, anyway? Is it
even an island in water? Is there water? Anymore?
How far must water be drilled
from under the barrens of farm country?

Minnesota went away.
James Wright carried it away
in the pocket of a denim freight car
on a frayed siding outside Fargo North Dakota—
rails long since dragged to the Fargo Rust Museum.

The nature trail that replaced it has sported no footprints
since, since . . .
supported trees that supported hammocks
that supported any dream at all.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.