The Cost of Things

By Richard Luftig

All these years he believed

that there was gold

in this farm but she

would have been happy


for a foot of good topsoil.

Still, she keeps a room

reserved for her treasures,

her dreams: Teacups


that match, plates

without cracks,

polished furniture,

rich curtains. A sofa thick


with cretonne-blue flowers

instead of these marriage-worn,

threadbare chairs with springs

that press hard into your back


Chairs with armrests unstained

by field sweat and worn with age.

Rugs once new, plush like the bank

account she dreams about


but now fringed along the borders

like old love. And season-

after-season, these hard-times

crops that most years don’t


even pay for themselves.

To him, she just talks

all the time of where

they should move; places,


she says, where sun warms

old skins like fruit,

where they could sit

among the pit and peach


of things. He has heard

it all so often that he

is unaware of her but

only as one becomes


unaware of their breath.

He says that she does not

understand how he struggles

with each pre-dawn cold,


his sorrows that ache him

like a slipped disk or sore

knee. He wishes instead

that he could go back


to that lifetime ago when

he was as strong as this land,

firm, flat with no pitch

or bend to pull a body down.