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Elizabeth Olenzek

The old way
The old way

We cannot tell you
how beautiful this scene was,
the straight back triumphant
holding an arrowhead like
a prizefighter after the bell.

We’d spent fifty-pound days
bent over potatoes, nose to
soil, monotony tripped
solely by stone and common
weed. And then the clouds

stepped aside, our hearts
jumpstarted by the rare
sake of artifact, a sudden
boon for labor
performed with ancient

hands. What curious
alms the earth extends, a mere flake
honed to edge, sharp
reminder to climb
down from the tractor,
to act an age.



Of whale bellies
they knew nothing, only
that rafters fended
wind and rain,
riblike, hollow

Skin of tin,
bone of wood. Animal
mass black against gray,
groaning low notes
only oaks could hear,
call from barn to forest.

A storm’s a storm, they said.
A sea is a sea.

Outside, waves ran down
tin, drops twined to
lose that distance
held in sky. A storm
grown to ocean, though
it could not drown.
Refuge from a
tempest spring.


Elizabeth Olenzek grew up in rural Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan, studied English, and now lives on an organic farm.