In the hayed field thick with dusted mist,
As the noon whistle of the village hissed,
We noted how the dead were neatly placed,
How all lay labeled, how all were given space.
We remarked the craft of marble wreath,
And proposed that those who lay beneath
Were clad in the fashion of their day,
Shrouds of wind in which to greet eternities of clay.
Nearby we saw the fruits of Arbor Day and said
How lovely are the trees; how well pruned and fed.
The trees ignored our gaze, as was their right,
And spawned a host of shadows, imitating night.
The hill before us, like some weathered tomb
Passed by in spring, above us loomed
With high and wind smoothed walls of slate
On which the trees’ sharp branches scraped
An etching of themselves slashed into sky.
But we were late into our day and a bird’s cry
Made us spy the gray and shaken sheets of storm,
That sheathed us soon and drove us down
Into the brambles where the ancient Indians lay,
Sheltered by the weeds from the weather of the day,
And resolved beneath to, sightless, calmly wait
Upon the Last Night’s opening of the gateless gate.
“The weave of roots took our eyes away.
The seeping rain removed our clay.
Our husked dried skin is steeped in sleep.
If you would awaken us, you must dig deep
“Beneath the earth of whittled leaves
Beneath the grief that no longer grieves;
To awaken us you need a careful touch,
For dig you must, but never dig too much.”
We turned from the field and its rustle of birds,
Where sunlight had played on summer words,
Playing now to winter’s chiseled stones,
To the hissing silence of abandoned bones.
Their stillness slashed dry grass with scythes of wind,
And made us wish we could a thousand acts rescind,
But we knew our wishes were for naught,
For what is easily sold is dearly bought.
Instead, we startled life in a whirr of wings,
And at that moment came to present things.
We went home, made tea, and sat together,
Held hands in evening and talked about the weather.
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“An etching of themselves slashed into sky.”
This is so lovely, Gerard. Thanks for posting it anew.
Why is there not a “Collective Works of Gerard Van der Leun?” Your loyal fans await its publication. And some of us are getting a bit long of tooth so let’s get cracking.
Good question! I’d buy that!