Nina Prater

The Drive to Work The whole way is lined with numbers. Signs telling me how fast I can gohow fast I should go how many miles I’ve gone, how many more are still to come on the highway with a number for a name. But what if insteadthe signs said, drive as fast as you want, or, if you take this exit,you'll come to a dinerwith burnt coffee and cloud-soft meringue pie. Or, look off to your left at the valley,the cows are grazing and it's mistymost mornings. Or, you'll be there soon enough,no need to rush. Turn on the radio,they just finished the ads and a song you know all the words to is coming on.

The Teachings of Tea Leaves, pot, water, heat, time.You unknotmy morning mind. Stinging hot at first, then warm, then cold,you remind me: be generous with your warmth while you have it in you to give.You linger dryly on my tongue, earthy, bitter.

Year After Year After Year Trees grow every year.Wet years, dry years, they do what they can without agonizing,Did I grow enough leaves? Or, I didn’t get as tall as I wanted!Or, The other trees have more acorns than me! No!They just grow! A little taller,a little broader, a little more rooted. Sun. Water. Earth. A little taller, a little broader, a little more rooted. Leaves. Trunk. Roots.A little taller, a little broader, a little more rooted. Year after yearafter year.

Nina Prater is a soil health specialist, farmer, and writer. She and her family live on a small farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Her poems have been published by Literary Mama and A Revolutionary Press, and also have appeared on her blog, The Elegant Agrarian. She studied English and Environmental Science at William Smith College and Soil Science at the University of Arkansas.