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At first, a block away, there were cornfields,
the fields of Rengel’s Farm, the last ones left
in town two suburbs straight north of Chicago,
fields sold then subdivided into lots
for split-level houses on bulldozed streets,
providing for a little while a place
for us to play in basements dug and poured
with ash-gray concrete, rain-pooled, smelling damp,
the stick-framed skeletons of two-by-fours
rising above, until, at last, they blocked
the building sites with chain-link steel fence
so kids like us who freely roamed stayed out.

Yet even though their fields were gone, the Rengels
still trucked in fruit and vegetables from somewhere,
keeping a farm stand going, selling sweet corn,
beefsteak tomatoes, and striped watermelons
our mother tapped like playing summer drums
as she said, “Taste and see, the Lord is good.”
Suburbanites we were, but many of us
one or two generations off some farm
in a thousand-mile stretch of Middle West
or in a distant country left behind,
and every year in summertime we tasted
something in the air, something on the tongue,
calling us back, back to the honeyed land.

You can hear Steven talk about this poem on the Reformed Journal Podcast.

Photo by Andrew Hutchings on Unsplash

Steven Peterson

Steven Peterson is a poet and playwright living in Chicago. His recent poems appear in Alabama Literary Review, America Magazine, The Christian Century, Dappled Things, First Things, The Windhover, and other journals. His plays have been produced around the USA. He is currently a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists. His first collection of poetry, Walking Trees and Other Poems, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

One Comment

  • D.S. Martin says:

    Oh, yeah, Steve! I can almost taste it. Suburbia’s expanding feels just like that around Toronto too!