TheFarmers' Almanacwas not the first book to which we turned—there were stacks,volumes,before it.So many more up-to-date sages willing to show us the best way to make a baby.Bestis the wrong word;the mostsuccessfulway to make a baby.只有在几个月的绝望之后,我们才转向Almanac.Considering the methods we'd already run through,gymnastic positions and thermometers,Clomid and prayer,consulting a source valued by generations intent on populating the planet with cows and sheep and corn seemed sensible.We wondered if planting human seeds was all that different.

Under Parenting,there are best days forpotty-training—this month,the first through sixth of January,and again from the twenty-ninth through thirty-first— andweening(oddly,the same dates as potty-training,every month of the year).Under Cooking,we considerbaking—there are so many good days for baking!—butbrewingappalls us.Not because we are not drinkers,we are,but because of the all-caps for January,February,and March: NO GOOD DAYS.Perhaps this is our problem,we have been trying to brew a baby,not bake one.

There are days devoted to tasks we expected:canning;pruning;picking;hunting.There are days we didn't:cutting hair to retard growth;cutting hair to increase growth;washing wooden floors;waxing floors;digging postholesandentertaining friends.There are best days toget married-每个月,lots of dates,no ominous NO GOOD DAYS here,folks—and there are days for castration (helpfully labeledcastrate farm animals,spurring sighs of relief from wild animals and men alike),but no days to breedpeople.There arebest days to write(but only a few days of each month) andbest days to wash windowsandquit smoking.There is guidance for fishermen,columns of adjacent pages,charts marked可怜的,fair,good,andbestwhere可怜的told us beware those days the fish steal your bait or don't even touch your line.

We have been very poor fishers.The would-be babies take our bait and flee,wiggling their miniscule tails as they slip into the shadows.Perhaps we should give up on this procreation thing.We may never get toweeningorpotty training,orabc'sormultiplication tables,certainly notlearning to driveorfirst kisses.But then,goddamn it,there seem to be so many other,so many more useful,rewarding chores to occupy our time.Just read it here: there are always better days forasking for a loananddrying fruit,天cutting firewood,of course,fordestroying wild onions.

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John A.McDermottcoordinates the BFA program in creative writing at Stephen F.奥斯汀州立大学。His work has appeared in a variety of journals,including theAmerican Journal of Poetry,Clarkesworld,andForklift,Ohio.He is the author ofThe Idea of God in Tennessee,a collection of poetry.He also posts inconsistently atjohnamcdermott.net.

Photo by Therese Brown