I Wrote a Letter
By Sheri Reda
It wasn’t him I was in love with; I’d swear it. He was more than ten years older than me, and balding, and doughy — and smart and funny — but sometimes cruel, and kind of effeminate… though that’s not really always a deal breaker for me.
I was married and happy and not looking. But I went out on assignment to help him cultivate his fields, and something wild coursed through me. Something not cultivated, at all. I ended up writing him a letter:
I want to fuck your farm.
I want to curl my toes in the brown clay,
mash the wet soil under my arches,
squeeze the juice out of the squirming underground
and watch it bubble up out of the mud,
and over my heel,
and out from under the balls of my feet: musky.
insistent. warm like arterial blood.
I started making my way to the farm every weekend, beginning on Father’s Day that year. I left my husband to fend for himself and our four-year-old daughter, and I went streaming up the Kennedy to Caledonia so I could hoe onion fields, and transplant basil, and stir up buckets of horsetail tea for the carrots.
I got myself too exhausted to be scared of the black, black night that fell around my shoulders. And I wrote that in the letter:
I want to kneel in the black loam,
sink my thighs into earth,
pull myself up out of warm, messy glop,
listen to the mud lap me up, suck me down.
I got filthy there, and sweaty, and smelly. And I’d go take long luxurious showers in the marble bath of Farmer John’s converted one-room schoolhouse. And then he’d I would hang out in the evening and talk about his youthful escapades. His art projects. His longing to escape the place that was my escape “but the farm kept claiming him against his will,” he said. I couldn’t understand it. The “against my will” part. I wrote:
I want gnats to tickle my neck and throat,
sweat bees to nip at the backs of my knees,
I want to slap them when they sting me,
and scratch when it itches,
and yowl when it hurts
and lick my own sweat
when it drips from my brow.
I started to feel a little buzz, a little pull in the direction of Farmer John. It got stronger every week. Strong enough for me that by harvest time, I wondered what it would be like. To be a farmer. THE farmer. To throw everything away, and — just live here.
The farm wanted me. The buzz nearly rattled my bones when I stood at certain angles next to Farmer John. But if I stepped away, just a foot or so, I was free to think, “What an ass he is!”
Still, I cried when the season was over. Which alarmed him… so I wrote a letter and tried to explain:
I… want to spread open the green bean plants
and twist and pull the slender stalks.
I want to taste tomatoes that have burst their skins,
roll fennel seeds across my teeth,
take whole lettuce leaves in my mouth,
bite down hard on radish.
I want to crack melons—
hear them open, feel them spray.
And that did it. So John… got himself a girlfriend. Quick. And I got sidelined. And contracted a six-month-long case of laryngitis, and a fear that I’d contracted herpes. And a foolish, foolish need to confess to my husband all the things I’d almost done.
That was then end of it. Nothing happened, really.
But every time I drive through the countryside, my heart leaps out the window and my longing leaps after it, right down into the furrows between the hills of beans.
And I want to lay down irrigation lines,
long and lean, and true
across the fields that seem to be reposing in frozen sleep.
It wasn’t him… But I still want to fuck his farm.