V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




He drove home from the hospital alone
down a bleak highway, the city’s complexities
bright behind him.  He drove himself
down the black road straight into the darkness
beyond the half circle, headlights arcing
ditch to ditch.  He knew the landmarks
were out there, unnecessary tonight,
as the miles rolled away underneath him,
the asphalt softening to dirt
roads taking him home.

He would rise well before dawn,
dress in cold clothes and quit
the warm quiet of the house,
walk the worn path toward the barn.
He would look to the east.  Out there
in the dark under acres of snow a prayer rug
of wheat waiting for spring.  And south,
past the thicket where he’d picked plums as a child,
toward the brome field and the round bales
lined end to end like a battlement wall

The cattle would be wanting.  He would climb
the ladder to the loft and find comfort
in the waxy green of alfalfa, the musky scent
of  the cows.  His grandson was dying,
the old man’s body would know this,
each thrust of the pitch fork would confirm it,
and the hay would whisper the news when it sluiced
from the tines to the trough.  He would ponder the cattle
below, remembering Rilke who wrote of the fortune of simple
beasts, rising each morning a new day,
and only dawn in their eyes.


© by Chris Ellis


Contributor's note
Next page
Table of contents
VPR home page

[Best read with browser font preferences set at 12 pt. Times New Roman]