[from Swallow by Miranda Field]
Then As September Fields of Wheat & Straw Take Fire
What’s withheld till wind parts the grasses:
Musk flooding the air, noxious-sweet — eggshell frail,
the tiny bones of the vole, its velvets stiffened,
pouchful of insects and seeds. Cold stones,
no movement in the tinfoil fallen leaves,
silence in the humus, and shadows on the hill grown long,
the death of the sun, the sun in its brief grave
waiting to be born. The cat hurries a carcass off,
but the deer won’t run through the grove.
They could be painted deer, they stand stock-still,
as if they wait, as if they want the gun, the sight’s
devotion: Such attentiveness is like a hot gold rush
of air from another content. And the jaws of stupefaction
can’t release what they close on, the fears that hound
the hunter’s child: who climbs the larcenous ladder to the shelf
is caught by the foot . . . The deer’s children — all spring long
they come so close to the windows they startle
themselves against the glass. They let us watch them
because it warms them, as when my milk won’t come
my newborn thrives on my look — undiluted, nourishing.
Body entering all awe, all shock, who’d hobble you,
who’d bleed you of your want? The striding
shadows on the hill grow long, the hunters anxious —
not hunger driving them, not prescience of winter,
but nostalgia — for the fall about to start, that trapdoor in the air:
ardor to elegy. The painter arranges the deer in the wood.
Ripe fruit. Ready. So rich, so wet the palette.
Blood and iodine, desire and its attendant
damage. The hunter’s gun is loaded. The heart of the hunter
heavy as the hunted’s. And the chambers divided:
I & thou. And the passage narrow.