Sonnet of Photosynthesis

Brent House


Soy stalks green & heavy with pods lean & lodge in memory as I walk in shade

bend to gather dock weeds from ground my family bought & cleared by hand

as I clear rows leased to a man with combines & a rig to carry his crops

to wherever a harvest is sold

to a buyer who does not care about nitrogen found in root nodules of this field

N2 + 8 H+ + 8 e → 2 NH3 + H2

or the produce of a generation who will not stay on these acres of coastal plains

the drop of pods heavy as tombs & shadows of sky threatening rain

fall into seams of drought

& beans

6CO2 + 12H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

I’m paid a penny for a weed & three cents for each weed with roots

I carry in a wheelbarrow

to be counted by my father & burnt

as my fingers thicken with work & darken with the loam of a row

broken as my breathing & efficacy of light.


Brent House, a coeditor for The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast and a contributing editor for The Tusculum Review, is a native of Necaise, Mississippi, where he raised cattle and watermelons on his family’s farm. Slash Pine Press published his first collection, The Saw Year Prophecies, and his poems have appeared in journals such as Colorado Review, Cream City Review, The Journal, Third Coast and The Kenyon Review.


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