Poetry Sunday: “Wine Country,”
by Kirsten Jones Neff


Wine Country

Even that morning when I put on
my nicest thrift shop sundress
and we wound our way
out narrowing drives,
through terraced hills,
past rows of tended vines
burning amber in the autumn light.

Even as I placed my hand
over yours on the rattling stick shift
of your rugged battered car
and asked if you had decided
where, per chance, we were going,
which tasting room you had chosen?

Even as I knew full well
we did not have the clothes,
nor wallet, for any tasting room,

and even as we passed ornate entrances
the caves and hallowed labels,
the fanciful flights of red and white,
as we slowed and rolled onto a dirt lane,
bumped past well-dusted thickets,
until we reached a mottled stand of thistle,
wild oats, a clover meadow gleaming beyond.

Even as you parked askew,
opened my door and led me through a veiled passage,
burrs and spines clinging to my ankles,
helped me across a creek ravine,
climbing toward the meadow,
damp earth giving way beneath my sandals.

Even as you pulled me after you
cheap champagne in one hand,
my wrist in the other,
ploughing through high ripe grass
to the deep shade of an oak
and lay me down
in the crook of your arm…

I knew that this,
this was everything,
everything my heart desired in this country.



Poet and journalist Kirsten Jones Neff has a degree in International Relations from Stanford and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Berkeley. She writes regularly for local and national magazines and has published poems in periodicals and journals including Spoon River Poetry Review, The Believer, Stanford Magazine, Spillway, Literary Mama, 34th Parallel, Ode, and Quiddity. Her debut poetry collection When the House is Quiet was nominated for a California Book Award and three of its poems were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. When the House is Quiet is available for order here. To read more about Kirsten’s work, visit here and her website.



Poet’s Note

As our children leave home for college, my husband and I have begun to dream up the journeys we will take together, just the two of us. The dreaming is fun, and we live in a time when exotic and luxurious travels are more readily accessible (if you can come up with the funds). But as we dream and plan, I am reminded of the simplicity of true romance, the richness and adventure and fullness that is two people in love, exploring. When we were young and had no money, this experience was implicit. Today, it is easy to become distracted by shiny objects. This poem came from memories of a time when there were no shiny objects, just the excitement of attraction and the adventure of love.

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  • Kati Short July 1, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    What a lovely poem is “Wine Country” and what a poetic criticism from Rebecca Foust. Please as you refine the forrmat of your, don’t take away our Poetry Sunday. How could we live without it?