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In The Field, 1987

You stand in that field
with the spring crop just reaching your knees
where your shorts end.
You have that skin,
the kind we have before we've been in car accidents
and stretched our mouths around other people
and smoked drugs in the outfield,
that kind that plumps over your bones
and takes the sun into itself.
The scrape from the rock you fell against
will taste oily and metallic when you stop to notice it,
and you will hope it will scar before fall.
I can taste it from here.

It was soundless;
at least, that is how I remember it
as I stare at this three-hole punch.
I think the grass scraped edge on edge,
and there must have been that sound of the breeze
running over the well of my ear,
but I do not remember it.
I do remember how far along the field you were
picking at seedheads.
You had forgotten about my following
and fingered yourself absently through your pocket.

I stood there once
with a toy car in my hand,
keeping my distance from the men who rolled wheat heads
and squinted against the dry air blowing off the highway.
One day I would be them, I thought,
and I plotted the cap I would wear
and whether I would chew grain
or let a thin stalk twizzle from my mouth.
That was then.

We are all three deep:
inside, outside, make-believe.
I watch your eyes go inward
while your lips move words to something there
away from the Doppler sounds of moving cars
where your shoulders are not burning
in the high sun.

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