Pastoral Resistance


Dogs in Meadow
Deer in Grass

Catskill, New York

A fair friend resists the pastoral,
insisting glacier collapse fire tornado sixth
extinction privilege the privilege of writing
about a peaceful wood walk. Walking in the
woods, I resist as well, as well. A sudden freeze
after the first hopeful warmth has silenced
the peepers. The resident red-shouldered hawks
have ripped apart another guinea fowl, its speckled
black and white feathers in a neat circle
in the bare winter wheat field, no trace
of blood or body. The dog is bored by feathers,
dashes after gleaning robins and burrowing
field mice, far from the Russian bus shelter
where she was found, far from her Brooklyn
youth. We’ve fled together, to the pastoral, to
walk the woods and fields, to plant blight-
resistant American Chestnuts and Catskill-
native flowers and ferns. If we burn or
are swept away, we will do so with muddy
paws, witnessing until the last pastoral page. 



Rob Spillman co-founded and edited Tin House Magazine from 1999 to 2019 and is the author of the memoir All Tomorrow’s Parties from Grove Press.

Pastoral Resistance

Related Posts


At the laundromat the whir of machines, / whorled & busy, the pleasure & difficulty / of stillness     Waiting, sockless, I aspire to be / the cross-legged woman reading a magazine, / settled into her corner of time     I like her gray braid, / the way her skin sings.

A Good Girl in the People’s Republic

When she stepped outside and closed the door, the iron handle was so cold, it felt like it was burning. With the basket on her arm, Fu Rong slipped her hands into a pair of cotton mittens her mother had made. She knew she would warm up once she started walking.

Chair against the window


I visit with a friend as she works to empty her mother’s house, who died just days before Christmas, and each object holds a tiny piece of Susan. I come away with several treasures lovely (a hand knitted scarf, a clay donkey to hold my garlic) and practical.