As I Wade In, Your Smile

Before the tornado and before they die
I wanted to introduce you to the aspen trees
that stand by the creek, combed with
blizzards of sun, and the farmhouse
abandoned and destitute over the coronation
of sweet, wet meadow. But we do not
reach it, your ankles stained in barley
and broken toes of marigold clinging
damply to the shrivelled recklessness
of rained-downed birds. Thank you, love,
for the flowers you brought to me, gladly
as wings, in remembrance of nests
slackened from wind. You thought of this and
me and of death passing by the wading pool
in town days before and we watched
the orchards of children clatter there,
and the fountain of voices straying like dogs
and hymns from tent sermons and you sold
bread and smiled behind the table in your
pretty dress. But do birds and wind and
barley know of wheat the way we do, as I
hold the small, small nest of your hand,
and feel the wind wade through, like thoughts,
and sense how eager touch erases, as it insists.
And is this why grasses tremble? For example,
you loved me. But since then where is it I
trampled upon as I waded into thickets of
a shapeless air? So, I must remove my shoes,
love. Forgive me, love, my bare feet that will
stand at your door as a ghost who will visit
inside the photograph of you wrapped in light
and darkness of fieldsun. Don’t worry, no
one knows it’s you. No one sees you, so
the parts of us who are ghosts will hunt for
one another among the huddle of sheets,
as we did before, under them, waving on the line.
And, there, as I wade in, your smile, a lily.
And we’ll laugh at how we were children
a second time, collapsing into each other,
and no longer will I weigh you down so that
we can walk upon the light-filled bodies of water
shining like the lime-green marshland
and floating in the indigo rooms, their cool basins,
and the orange seams of the abandoned farm
until the deer that comes just now, having wandered
here into this poem filled with water, with birds,
as I write from the side of the road, its ears
like shells and soft from the fussy river and
lifting its nose to follow and to sniff the sweater
I leave on the windshield, which will take in the rain
for days, and will dry later, some time after
I’ve left and have gone away nowhere, my heart
pounding across the field, back, back there.

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