Midwest Palimpsest

Despite recent downpours, the empty plastic bucket
   in which I carry fresh water to the chickens 

makes a sharp sound when I drop it
   on the ground, reach to turn on the spigot

which tells me the earth is still thirsty
   the way anyone would be, long drought
      absence of gentleness,

of rain pattering all day, that intimacy.
   A thunderstorm’s brief outburst isn’t enough

to water deeply or soften the earth,
   nor, I imagine, to replenish the Teays,

underground river written over by glaciers,
   a palimpsest of artesian wells springing up

from below, river I mapped in fourth grade
   Indiana history class, tracing tributaries,
      my hand gliding over tracing paper 

laid over the map below, tracing the antediluvian
   history of this place without knowing I was mapping
      the source of the well from which

my children would someday drink, its current audible
   when the well cap was removed to replace the pump
      after a lightning strike.

Cold, clear water gushes from the spigot, still. My children
  grown, I carry a sloshing bucket to the chickens,
      path my boots have traced in the parched grass.

Daye Phillippo

Daye Phillippo has lived her life backwards, first raising her family and later earning degrees in creative writing from Purdue University (2011) and Warren Wilson MFA for Writers (2014). She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Grant for work in progress, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship for poetry. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Literary Mama, Shenandoah, Cider Press Review, Twelve Mile Review, One Art, Natural Bridge, Presence, The Windhover, and many others. She taught English at Purdue University and lives and writes in a creaky, old farmhouse in rural Indiana where she tends a garden, two cats, and a lively flock of Barred Plymouth Rock hens. Thunderhead, her debut collection of poems, was published by Slant in 2020. Please visit her website.