The farm wife makes her Christmas list

Give me sisters and brothers with crockpots full
and running over. A bed piled high with coats

and diaper bags. Leaves to extend the kitchen table.
Thick catalogs to booster seat the kids.

A percolator perking thirty cups as we pass
plates of monster cookies and whoopee pies.

Albums with ancestors solid as their barns.
Battered Rook cards we use to shoot the moon

and dominoes branching in every direction.
Paper snowflakes till strings of hearts

replace them. The old piano we can’t afford
to tune, that gives us our pitch when we sing

“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,”
the version with echoing alleluias and amens.

Silence washing over us as we wave to the last
car pulling out, side by side like newlyweds.

—Shari Wagner
from The Farm Wife’s Almanac (Cascadia Publishing House)

Red Barn [cm]

The farm wife finds grace in her empty barn

Inside the house, dust is dust,
but here it looks holy, suspended

in slanted light that slips between
boards. Jacob’s ladder could be

rungs to a loft where barn swallows
brush the dark with the curve

of their wings. Every joint is pegged
tight as Noah’s ark, but there’s room

for everyone—nesting sparrows
and mice that scatter from burlap sacks.

When I slide the big door back,
sunlight rushes in to fill the empty bin

where Jesus could be reaching up
to touch black and white faces

gazing down. I like to picture him
swaddled by the breath of cows.

—Shari Wagner
from The Farm Wife’s Almanac (Cascadia Publishing House)

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About the author

Shari Wagner

Shari is the author of three books of poems and teaches poetry writing to people of all ages, in all sorts of settings (parks, schools, community centers, retirement centers, and, most recently, on ZOOM. You can learn more about her activities by visiting the website she started as Indiana Poet Laureate in 2016–2017: