The Farm in Coleraine

James Hoch

I heard a rumor
the midwife wrapped the cord
with gauze and sunk it

in a jar of vinegar,
sealed it with wax, set the jar
in a strong box, muttered

a prayer, then buried
the cord in the cellar floor
of the stone house

which stands now
like a dead tree edging the field.
That was a long time ago,

before I could think of such things,
before my mother, too,
was secure in the ground,

and I had grown accustomed
to the long shears that leave us
walking dumb in the world,

dumb with a desire for what
we cannot know, across this field
like the face of some old child.