Of chinooks smooth-talking small infinities
of wheat; of tar-tanged topsoil,
and of fraying permafrost; of fire’s falsetto
purifying pitch, and queasy bees
fading like smoke,
say something, Maro.
Scrape the frothy Tiber off your tongue,
its silty sighs, its golden gloss,
and tell me what might work up here.
The world's a wreck—forget poetry:
Speak to me stones you can say
when in Rome, but our wind won’t
dictate, and our stones don’t scribe.
Each silo bursts
its stanza, threshers
rake the stretch-marked hills, and dusk
stutters into dark more stars than sky.
Then light lands hard as wind,
pushing the sapling ash around,
late-blooming bog star and belated bur.
Our August might not awe its emperor.
But heavy kernels still salute and bow,
and plots the plow commissioned
are still crowned with gold, grainy vernacular:
spiked with lice but spicing wind like licorice.
Great spectacle, in other words, neat furrows
and lush flocks. The problem’s me:
the city boy arrives to clear his head,
thinking the grey horse of the clouds,
its half-apple of moon, but loses it:
the sky’s immense miasma makes him sick.
A lavish fever, visitors, and dreams—
I’ve heard this one already, Maro—wisdom
spoken by a tatted, gap-toothed yokel
in a nonsense epilogue that twangs
like cricket song: A dull plow cuts dull worms.
Joy’s like a fox: 11 pounds, but mostly fur.
But how unlikely, joy or grief,
or blades of grass, and how sufficient.
Fields catch flower overnight,
and then dissolve. Thistles exist,
and hawks are numerous, the taste
of soil more than we deserve,
the names of birds not a belated
plumage but distilled out of the wing,
woven of air; how startling
the silent sweep and pivot
of a word, and that the mind can feel
unfamiliar in the costume of itself.
The pump jack hammers out its slick
hexameter. The truck whinnies exhaust.
Our work won't save us, since
the faintest breathing scars the sky.
So if you’re sick of all that marble,
and would like to make cold granite weep,
if you crave empty fields where being,
steaming like a bull, can settle, come
I won’t just do something,
I’ll sit here. And I’ll hold my breath,
and watch the dust your foot, keeping
the beat, kicks up, clouding the stars.