Scarecrow; Under Flightpath
These resurrection scenes painted
on the thick glass standing between
mourner and a pristine view of steel
silos overflowing with October corn
have flaked, faded, dulled the burn.
Silence by silence, those who loved
him fill his body with whatever they
find lacking in themselves. Unread
newsprint, old war letters. Guilt, its
absence. But I learned the etiquette
of grief before today. How to bow,
fold my hands just right, accept that
this unforgiving darkness still gives
off some light. So I say I accept that
ash can be stoked back to flame. So
the grass lit dimly by dew I assume
means more than night’s bone-deep
chill. Body-length planks lead us all
out into a red field where in an hour
or two we’ll return to an unfinished
harvest. Pupils widen with morning.
My wool suit itches at the knees.
A gristmill kicks back to life. Black
birds are everywhere, and in the low
register of coming winter, the earth
begins to harden from the root up.
Living so long with this unresolved
but no longer burning need to sweep
our contrails from the sky, to take a
boxcutter to the airstrip and control
tower; a roof’s perpetual trembling.
Watching windows steam whenever
another plane rises into that brash
violation of landscape. Saying now
that we have wings, are the heavens
any more masterable? Now that war
is a simple act of distancing? Smoke
from occasional wrecks billow up
around a childhood spent holding
glassware in place, hoping the walls
withstand another’s coming, going.
Eventually every blast fades neatly
to white noise; we have learned to
eat our dinners off shattered plates.
If I told you there are moments in
the lifespan of any house when ruin
is the glue keeping it all together,
would you believe me when I say I
haven’t given up on my country?