Owning the Air – by Judy Kaber

When I didn’t know any better.
When I didn’t know
the madness of owning a plot of earth.
When I looked at the house with it’s stunned door,
the fields of hay under pockets of sky
and thought it was mine.

Even the dust and the woods.
The tangle of bushes. My mind
rippled with beauty. Shoeless and hot,
I stood in the drive as if I were in paradise.
No keys. No locks.

Later I would own other things.
Black pickup truck.
A goat I called only Mrs. Goat.
I lay my head against her side
listened to the light blue milk
shoot into the pail.

All sold, but it took
years to let go. I’d go back,
find the house wedged deep
in weeds, floors sunk, walls
rimmed with mold. Yet the land
thrived without me—swallowed
the old well, fence posts, garden plot—
until the house became an afterthought,
a worry that stirred at night,
counting the stars
until its demise.

When I didn’t know.
The earth knew. The air knew.
Even now the stream behind my house
reminds me. Caretaker.
Not owner.

Judy KaberJudy Kaber is the Poet Laureate of Belfast, Maine, and author of three chapbooks, most recently A Pandemic Alphabet.” Her poems have appeared in journals such as Poet Lore, december, Hunger Mountain, and Spillway. She won the 2021 Maine Poetry Contest and was a finalist for a 2022 Maine Literary Award.