excerpts from: The Deceased Hope the Farm Remains in the Family for Generations by Jenny Browne

So ended the obituary.
So begin again with a parable.

In those days the habit was to call the older people Aunt or Uncle,
regardless of relationship. Uncle had a son who was highly educated. The
son happened to be home from college so Uncle started him planting
corn. The seed boxes on the planter hold about a gallon of corn seed each.
Uncle filled the boxes and left the sack of seed setting at the end of the
field. The son planted until about noon and never re-filled the seed boxes, which
should have been done three times by mid-morning. the men spent
all afternoon digging in the tracks, trying to figure out where the seed had
run out.

Or perhaps a photograph:

I’m not sure who the other woman is, but that’s the one you’re named for.

No, it’s not really a hat. You call it a tea cozy, for a teapot. She was funny like that.

We spell yours differently, but you say it the same.


You might (V. suggests) want to try writing that in scenes.

The back room smelled like Louis L’Amour
paperbacks–even after

the farmer’s eyes clouded and he switched
to cassette–Luck Strikes, weak coffee

cooling in Victory Seed Corn mug.

There are woman hands can snap a chicken neck in one twist.

There is town and town is
canned peaches,

       volunteer ditch lilies, orange-vested
prisoners picking up trash in the sun.

What does not change?
The davenport best for naps,

that screen door’s quick temper
one question: how far, exactly,

he meant by walking distance?

Mom calls to say cousin Marty’s getting a new heart, and I spend the rest of the day
saying it possible: Marty’s getting a new heart. A new heart. A new heart

Hey barista. Hey dry-cleaning. Hey sashimi, my cousin’s getting a new
heart. He has exactly six hours to go get his new heart.

Marty and his brother Mike run rigs full of Amish hand-turned spindles,
NASCAR track rails, pork, corn, and soybeans all up and down Hwy 41.

Edamame? Uncle Joe laughs, I got you a whole field of edamame.

Corn silks turning just in time.

Up in the combine, Mike fell to his knees, weeping, gripping the cell
phone. Something wrong? No, nothing’s wrong. The got Marty a heart.

Joe said the tops of Marty’s ears were all pink when he got out of the
operating room. (I just
wrote operating ring, which seems fitting, better even.) Pink, Joe’s own

eyes filling, like a baby.

Parke County (1979)

Dear Ones All,

I hope the heirlooms, especially furniture, china and glass can be divided among you.
Rectangle (almost square) Walnut table.
Oval (spool) belonged to (I am not sure).
Pedestal table (Marion bought pieces from trash pile room of Masonic building)
Pink rose Havalin plates and cups bought by Ethel Carver for Mother out of first year salary
teaching at the country school “No 2 Wabash Township Parke County”
Odd Plates (one each to grand-children)
1 large glass dish with lids (always had apples in it)
Leaf pattern fan
Blue, red and white linens for when a small child (cold weather) went to visit
(I was wrapped in it to go home)
It is hard about my diamond ring, which your father bought and gave to me
Marion said it would buy a Ford if I wanted to sell it.
Somebody please take good care of it (a lovers gift).


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