She Comes

Photo WFU MuseumInside this stone house of fragile mortar, one room, a cold stove and the razor winds finding me in the wool coat, worn thin in decades past and lingering still. Looking thru the slatted windows at the frozen flatlands, the particles, the mist, the silver dawn. The trees, scant and skeletal like Mexican brides in a Halloween parade but I can’t paint the color in, only umber grays, slumber grays, and streaks of wheat-colored sunlight from a morning yet unbidden, bones in agony, filtered by a thousand moaning souls cold and charred. The treetops are severed by the cracked boards in my line of sight and when I shift to find them I lose the ground like an aging, sightless bird in his final glorious flight remembering his predatory youth, but I see her flying over the snow-puddled prairies dropping icy pellets of crystal rain on my bare skin, while I pick the roots in forage, the smell of new-sawn wood for reasons I can’t explain, fills my head and softens the pain of the hard earth underfoot, under my raw kneecaps teetering on the small flat stones.
Move away from the window. I sit on my heels on the straw floor and wait for her as board by board the vortex pulls the roof to shreds exposing me to the noon-high sun, formless against a white sky and the wedding dance rattles empty bones in the fields about, hollow as quills, knocking like cheap souvenir chimes and it’s my time.
She comes to the doorway, flowers in her hair. My back is to her but I know it is her by the colors seeping over the room, bleeding into life, florid blues and flaming orange walls before me and it warms my body and I smile. She takes me.

One of my favorite poems:

Trumbull Stickney

It’s autumn in the country I remember

How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.

It’s cold abroad the country I remember.

The swallows veering skimmed the golden grain
At midday with a wing aslant and limber;
And yellow cattle browsed upon the plain

It’s empty down the country I remember.

I had a sister lovely in my sight:
Her hair was dark, her eyes were very sombre;
We sang together in the woods at night.

It’s lonely in the country I remember.

The babble of our children fills my ears,
And on our hearth I stare the perished ember
To flames that show all starry thro’ my tears.

It’s dark about the country I remember.

There are the mountains where I lived. The path
Is slushed with cattle-tracks and fallen timber,
The stumps are twisted by the tempests’ wrath.

But that I knew these places are my own,
I’d ask how came such wretchedness to cumber
The earth, and I to people it alone.

It rains across the country I remember.


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