Only Lonely Ones*
“…there are no unsacred places” (Wendell Berry)
Not even the deep pit for downers,
dug to regulation height and width.
Awash in lime, those dead achieve
a kind of pride in their last, long flight
from the tractor’s spade,
calling out to the missing soul—
look, I too, I can go.
The sparrow does not know
the dimensions of that hole. The hawk
cannot divine any frame
of bone or tooth or hair. But we could ask the shrew,
the vole, any of those who avoid
the aperture of light, who tunnel
quietly aside, die without any last display.
Not even the scratch yard, full of dirty hens,
where the pregnant migrant worker leans
from the rail, heaving out her lunch
of beans. Among them, worms, a little blood.
There, in the yard, before the dogs,
she is a sort of god, straightening
her back, each buckle of the spine
popping softly into place. She is full
of horror for what is real, what is coiling
in the dangerous air.
Not even the last working furnace in the old
steel mill, where, each morning,
the sons of fire come, sawing on the reins
of their little red mare. She only knows
the fox at her heels, the light blinding,
ripping down. And so, the bodies
of the burning mock the dawn—
what greater fire we have seen,
what grandeur on the skin and under it.
*Previously Published in Southeast Review
Late for summing, wooly-bear,
I should yield you your way.
Traffic signals do not speak
to you—you scout ahead,
but your horizons lie
far too low. All instincts
point to go, but the workers
in their orange jackets,
change your mind. Slow,
slow, slow. Late for something,
are you? Huge-assed,
you wobble. As if, before you,
not the low gray tracks, buses
carrying victims of crashes
and heart attacks, but cold sheets,
wet and hanging on the line,
forming a veil
you cannot see beyond.
As if, at any moment,
the nymphs will rise
behind them, their delicates
still rosy from their bath,
and sit along the branches
of the trees, drying their
golden hair. Late for them?
Late for seeing or becoming?
I get it. So are we, so are we.
Copyright © 2010 Hannah Craig