Best of the Net 2013  


On River Road, I find a $10.94
Facts Plus pregnancy test box,
soaked instructions beside it. It's icy,

treacherous. Men are sugaring by the river,
checking tree spouts and sap buckets,
tending a fire, drinking midmorning beers.

Propped in ice on the roadway,
a broken bowl holds a blue candle.
I think a girl must have left it to burn.

Perhaps her breasts are sore or numb now.
She may feel unexpectedly tired. The best
weather for sugaring is warm days

like today, freezing nights. Stones gleam
in meltwater cascading out of a culvert.
There's no sign of the urine collection cup,

urine dropper, test disk, foil pouch.
The river is higher than I've ever seen it.
I think the girl may feel dizzy or faint.

She may start to cry for no reason. It's sugaring
season, too late to compact the trail snow, to run
the heavy dragger with spring-loaded blades.

- Barbara Daniels (from The Cortland Review)