J. Kates, a poet, literary translator and the co-director of Zephyr Press, is the author of three chapbooks of his own poetry, the full length collection The Briar Patch: Selected Poems & Translations (Hobblebush Books, 2012), and a dozen books of translation from French and Russian. A former president of the American Literary Translators Association, he has also collaborated on four books of Latin American poetry.
Woman of the High Plains
The ground boils here, but slowly —
not like the water in my pot
stripping a cooked chicken to bone
and soup, separable
identities. It takes,
they say, nine years or more
for a man to render down
to broth, and then his skeleton
can be picked out and thrown away.
My husband, now,
would pinch the soil each spring
and taste it for the planting,
knowing what it needed
until it needed him.