On my knees in tilled soil, I deposit
One lettuce seed after another in the shallow scrape
I furrowed below the taut string.
Each minuscule flake is supposed to be inserted

An inch apart.
But as my thick finger ends hover above the row,
Seeds clump together where they land
Or spray out to fleck the sides of the depression.

When I attempt to retrieve errant seeds
I inadvertently jam most of them deeper
Into the crumbs and grains of the bed.
Rectifying matters as best I can

I resume laying out the line of tiny shards.
How could this placing of seed into fertile ground
Ever be considered by the ancients to be
Women's work?

Doesn't the process most closely match
Men's part in reproduction?
And given young women's familiarity with blood,
Wouldn't the assignment of gender tasks be less counterintuitive

If females had become the hunters, killers?
So much of human history involves
Stunningly irrational traditions, myths, proscriptions.
How many lives have been warped

As society tries to justify, enforce,
Tweak to be at least minimally functional
A fundamental mistake? I finish the last row,
Stroke and pat the earth back smooth.

My package of seed emptied,
I am overcome by languor
--An overwhelming urge
To roll over onto the grass alongside and sleep.