blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
print version

In the Fields of Asphodel, Evening

falls head over heels down the shallow embankment, spills
costume jewelry from its pockets—gold lockets, glass beads, diamond
rings, enameled bees. Dead carp rise from the field and swarm

around your knees: mouths agape, the hook set and yanked—
Persephone tripped down this ravine where night unspools
from thrushthroat; twine and fishline. It waylays you on the picnic

table before the cops arrive. It’s never on time. Is the root
of the tree, the field forgetting its level; it caterwauls, pries
off the lid. Drums daylight into dirt, earthworms the eyes

of the dead. Sighs to the sycamores; is witches’ broom, fire-
blight. Doesn’t care if you, naked and curled in the crook of its arm,
are alright. Is the last words you loved: wilderness. Incandescent.

The brine of sex. The taste after. Turns off every light in the house;
tongues the toaster; outpours the Big Dipper. Tells you after all
you’re not the girl it loves; grows stiffer, limper. Ventriloquists

frog over the swamp mallow, divorce the past. It isn’t you it loves
but the turned curve of hillock, rootknot. A field of narcissus
in the rain. Feels like a ball-peen hammer; sounds like keening, sounds

like clamor. Cleaves the whiteoak, cleaves onto the body and forgets
you were even there. Were you there? Your body is a field-ravaged
ruin. It befuddles the thrush, baffles the moon. Is a sugar-tit

of reassurance (repeat I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine). Milk light. Meal-
worms. Maggots. Floats the ferry across the straights, is the grinning
abyss—it lies. It whines: paperwhites and a dark steed. Chokes

on your mouthful of seeds. It undermines. Lizard, bone, dust—half-
way between heaven and hell sounds a bell. Charon’s boat
eases through waist-high reeds. Tell him you’ve mouthed your coins,

lift up the meat of your tongue. Every soft place leads to this—it’s either Lethe
or bliss. Hand over your sorrows, cross the tangled line. This is the last
blessing. Look: your body has begun to shine.  end

return to top