Into the Corn

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In summer we were warned not to enter it If the tassels were head-high or higher Lest we get lost like the boy who went in After a ball called foul and never came out Whose parents must have been decades dead But who himself had not aged a day Who runs bases wherever farm boys say Ghost man oh ghost man we need you! Out of longing to enter it we reached in The leaves slicing our arms like the knife My mother used to slash the risen dough Wrenching the ears off the stalks Like twisting doorknobs in the dark We held them to our own ears grinning Before turning serious and regretful For though them we had heard the boy laughing And as we brusquely shucked the husks Like village grandmothers sitting in doorways Down to the slick light green inner leaves We longed for the moist dark that seemed to be One of the privileges of being born as corn But not knowing this longing was common We held the silk under our bare armpits instead And laughed at the long joke of adolescence We were soon to be the punch lines of While really recalling the pubic hair Of women we’d seen in porn magazines We found in the trash in the roadside ditch When the kernels hybridized for cattle Were exposed in their wavy pews We gnawed them like they were sweet Corn picked up at the roadside stand for supper Boiled in sugar-water buttered and salted To be spun on the lathes of our hands And when we’d bitten off more than we could chew We snapped the cops clean in half So as to see the marrow and believe We had gone at least as deep into the corn As that boy who’d disappeared had