One version starts with villagers smiling,
their smocks rough with pine, their eyes squeezed shut
from all the sun. Oranges dot their thoughts in place
of periods. Ordinary soil cruds their phone booths.
Observing custom, nothing goes to waste: they fuck
on top of flags to stripe them beautiful with sweat.
Oldest daughters are unionized. October wind
reweights the branches until red apples swing,
brave & shy. One morning, there’s a vote to name the land,
“which is required for official tax purposes,” & all at once,
it’s barren. Olive groves give out. Observing custom,
villagers accept that they can’t fix the world
nor desist from it, either. On cue, they form a circle
in the dirt, where everyone starts arguing. Over time,
this works: the fruit trees reacclimate; blossoms
vowel-out in budding green. Old villagers finish sweeping
around their condos, which everyone calls
“a good sign.” Occasionally, allrightniks still lean out
car windows to yell “Give up!” or “Move to the city!”
but the villagers only nod
& cast smiles obscurely as seeds into the dirt.
Allison Pitinii Davis is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Poetry and the Ohioana Book Award, and Poppy Seeds (Kent State University Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her work has been published in Best American Poetry, POETS.ORG, and elsewhere. She holds fellowships from Stanford University's Wallace Stegner program, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. She was born in Youngstown, Ohio and lives in Wheeling, West Virginia. www.allisondavispoetry.com
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan