Slow Field of the Sky


The sea in a blue frame.
Two seagulls hover above a wave
and on the shore an abandoned
rowboat, moonlit. A clock
assembled by my uncle, driftwood face
with rope coiled round. Salt water
and stingrays, jellyfish broken
open by sticks and chubby hands
and the stink of it sudden. Listen
to the metronome of glass washed over
water and the ocean of to be taken in.
Only minutes have passed
and already ice on the blacktop,
the one-lane bridge above the creek
looking white and insufficient where
just minutes have passed and I
want you to know that I am here,
driving these back roads and listening
to the deer walking out in the groves.


Gray settles in on the sheets
from the west window and though
blue they seem gray. Wind
picking up some pace, siding
rustles—leaves crowd up into the gutters.
The snow should come. You know
that tiny church out where 615
meets 20, they've painted the doors
a dark purple and yesterday
two bunches of purple aster tacked on.
Heaped in the gravel a pile of leaves
and pruned branches for burning. The slow
evening in the stained glass—you are
held at bay by these early darks.


If we drive further out
in Louisa county there is an old
plantation house for sale, the columns
tall as hell and skinny and the house
leans a bit. Are the fences always
newly whitewashed at the top
of a rise and behind it for miles
sown fields, caramel colored
bales of hay : a sea where it rains
big drops and surfaces scatter
and break and would you
watch this will you leave me
at new air : leaning in with the wind
the force of the sky's blue heart—
a hundred wand-like branches.
Who is made of common waters
: makes these rivers breathe.


Careful arms raised and your back
pressed to the doorjamb then
the shaking and a sound
coming out of you like some kind
of distant weather : how thieves
approach how trees
lean in : pieces of water
lift to parts of wind. Help me
see this, you must help me see this.
The porch light is crowding out the edges.


Three crows and with the snow down
you can see clear, the magnolia
a tacky decoration in all this
white. You did this.
A bluebird and some tiny
gray bird with a white belly.
Fallen limbs and though you
didn't follow—a small sea of hay
in the woods out back half
buried in the snow but otherwise
yellow and remaining : minutes bend
onto these stretches of road and
in the blue shadows trees make
on snow fields. I pulled at your hand
and the plastic wreaths scratched
on the windows in the wind : our breathless
pace flickering with the winter trees
the things familiar—newspaper
heaped beside the sofa and tire ruts
in the side road and waiting : yes
to be unheard and to be idle,
slight and what to make of these
changed lines of weather.


At the crossroads two new
gas stations. Rows of semis idle
through the night—shiny chrome
Virginia Oil rigs, a refrigerated
milk truck, in the back a few trailers
stacked with logs and the threat
in this outlasting : clouds up
around us and would you have
taken me in. Would you have told
me how a house and its pictures,
its backyards and countless
accumulations can know us much.
The heater's blunt hum kicks
off and I can hear highway then
rifle shots, the bird feeder swaying.
Orion out there like a toy.