Shock Lessons, a Paddock Scripture

exploring the farm as a child I would part the tall grasses,
moving through the dirt beneath the thick rushes.
consisting mainly of overgrown clover and clusters of foliage,
I’d map the distance that made up our property. it seemed endless,
that innocent drive to run further beneath the ceiling of leaves,
expanses of earth shifting beneath a child’s slight weight.
I would imagine how far the landscape stretched.

one afternoon when my parents were at the races
I followed the pasture floor to the fenceline at the back of the property.
wanting to go further, I hovered a blade of grass over the ticking wire
as I had watched Dad do so many times, to test if it was safe to cross.
feeling nothing, I wrapped my hands around one of the copper threads —
struck by that first surge through the body, electricity
running like a vein of blood beneath the skin
as though a voice screamed through a haze, blinding my eyes
and rattling my mind with panic.

no longer wishing to know more, to understand,
I stood startled at the trapped earth and wires
that had run a painful electric current through my body.
it would have been foolish to even attempt climbing
over into the neighboring paddock.
all I could do then was give up.


This poem originally appeared in Mad Songs (Blank Rune Press, 2015). 

Source: Poetry (May 2016)