Sugar Beets

by Peter Vertacnik

Driving the narrow
two-lane between
Saginaw and Lansing
in late autumn,
past fields frozen
in harvest furrows,
the road treated
against the evening’s
forecast of sleet,
rock salt rattling
like gravel in
the wheel wells,
I see, on
my left, beneath
tall stadium lights,
the beet-receiving
station—last week
an empty lot—
where now jagged
pyramids, Aztec or
Incan, rise darkly
to stunted summits,
piled bodies gnarled
and cratered, still
caked with clods
and root hairs,
concealing latent sweetness,
soon to disappear
again, refined into
masses of granules
equally as anonymous
as those places
that change them:
Croswell and Caro,
Bay City, Sebewaing.

PETER VERTACNIK’S poems and translations have appeared in The Hopkins ReviewLiterary MattersPoet LoreValparaiso Poetry Review, and Water~Stone Review, among others. Currently he is an MFA student at The University of Florida.

Photo: “Sugar Beet Factory, Bury St. Edmunds,” by Jeremy A.A. Knight