Ox turn by Erin Conway-Smith

You’ve stopped tilling in a bid to sink carbon,

your bit in forestalling near certain destruction.

Stalked spekboom around the front garden.

You’ve ditched weeding, sown teff to cover

your scruffy smallholding. Left layers decomposing. 

The neighbours grumble, but survival — here’s hoping.

The ground is now closed for restructuring. 

There are new ways to dig deeper. A seed drill,

a philosophy of self-seeding, of non-interference.

The deep work is shrouded but you can imagine it:

microbes, multiplying. A winsome new loaminess. 

Tastier cabbage, even (think of the marketing).

The yield curve yielding. The same old sickle resharpened for reaping.

Erin ConwaySmith was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, PRISM international, Ons Klyntji and (forthcoming) Best Canadian Poetry 2024. As a journalist, Erin has reported for The Economist, The Times (UK), The Globe and Mail and other publications.