Sawtooth palms, and the hymns of
a leftover Palm Sunday
lard the air with the gentleness
of some imagined Christ:
see the hand reaching from
the coloring book, the heavy impress
of peach crayon, and plum or clay or brick or blood
(but they don’t give you blood)
overleaping its bounds—
there is the idea, and the real
father, who stops the car at the sign for
sand worms, cokes
and does not bark when you pour the warm over your hands and chin
and lick sweet from your palms and let flies gather
curious on your lips
you are playing at animal.
You play too much, the father says, and he
should know: there is no part of him that leaps
if only by blood, outside
the lines worked around him
flesh meeting fly-black of waders
no space between
for air to gentle, pull at, colden
the rough skin, hooks of hairs
convince of slowness, make restful, willing
to watch the face you have arranged
we are a country
of open spaces.
Think of the pull,
the fine fettle and falltime falling
of the fallow fields—
the useless scape of
animal in grass, and grasshoppers’
flight, frightened by the biting breath
of one who walks without regard
for distance, or the lewdness
of feet, the cheat
of weight on ground.
There is no holding
the space between the blades of grass,
no breath, no sorrow
large enough to spread itself
against this place, this plane, this shameless blade
no hurt, no hunger heavy enough
to rest itself at the center of this air, clean-driven
down from our beginning
and resist the sweet thrusting of the wind.
I know places, milewide by milewide,
that have known as many deaths as crimson clover seeds.
There is no door to open, no floorboards
to pry awake.
There is no house to split and sunder and sing into swift-swirling ash,
into the simple, the simpering, the sickening and the sightless
and into the thing that loves you, loves you, loves you
for your fearless blood, your fatuous good,
your living, lightless self.
Out here, there is nothing to burn, nothing to tell of
and no landmark to tell your memory by.
The high stalk will bend, and send itself
back to the frail dark it has made of the day, and wait
to be walked over, unnoticed by the wanting