Last night, when we were loading the groceries into the Tundra, the sky beyond the parking lot
looked like this! I had to stop loading a bit and take some iPhone pictures.
Then we drove home and unloaded the groceries,
but this sky stays with me.
AGAINST THE REST OF THE YEAR
The meadow’s a dream I’m working to wake to.
The real river flows under the river.
The real river flows
Over the river.
Three fishermen in yellow slickers
Stitch in and out of the willows
And sometimes stand for a long time, facing the water,
Thinking they are not moving.
Or watching the West slip through our hopes for it.
We’re here with hay down,
Startling the baler, and a thunderhead
Stands forward to the east like a grail of milk.
The sky is cut out for accepting prayers.
Believe me, it takes them all.
Like empty barrels afloat in the trough of a swell
The stupid bales wait in the field.
The wind scatters a handful of yellow leaves
With the same sowing motion it uses for snow.
After this we won’t be haying anymore.
Lyle is going to concentrate on dying of a while
And then he is going to die.
The tall native grasses will come ripe for cutting
And go uncut, go yellow and buckle under snow
As they did before for thousands of years.
Of objects, the stove will be the coldest in the house.
The kitchen table will be there with its chairs,
Sugar bowl, and half-read library book.
The air will be still from no one breathing.
The green of the meadow, the green willows,
The green pines, the green roof, the water
Clear as air where it unfurls over the beaver dam
Like it isn’t moving.
In the huge secrecy of the leaning barn
We pile the bodies of millions of grasses,
Where it’s dark as a church
And the air is the haydust that was a hundred years.
The tin roof’s a marimba band and the afternoon goes dark.
Hay hooks clink into a bucket and nest.
Someone lifts his boot to the running board and rests.
Someone lights a cigarette.
Someone dangles his legs off the back of the flatbed
And holds, between his knees, his hands,
As if they weighed fifty pounds.
Forever comes to mind, and peaks where the snow stays.
Poet's Choice; poems for everyday life, selected and introduced by Robert Hass, Ecco, 1998, pages 126-127.
(This poem is from Galvin's book, Resurrection Update; collected poems 1975-1997, Copper Canyon Press, 1997.)
James Galvin has written a wonderful prose book called The Meadow. This very country, and this very Lyle are in this book. If you love the world and the things in it, it is well worth reading.
I love the specificity in this poem, and the irregular line and stanza lengths, Our task might be to write a poem about a place and an activity we know very well--in such an open form.