Jake Adam York
Panoramic: Landscape With Repeating Figures
Scroll of darkness, power out, down, a fog set in, no stars or lightning bugs, no sodium haze. Unearthly dark few will remember.
Then, at left, static, subatomic streams scatter and resolve, a copse, contradictory spread from the blank: boxwood, sumac, smilax, suckle, scrub oak, dogwood, saplings: a dim explosion with a calf nested in its jets, a single face clouded by warmth.
Face in a crease of rising bank as the pasture shoulders free, the lens swinging around to catch her, the rise shielding movement. The light
comes to reveal feed grass and weed, shock of blades and tall stalks bending in slight wind, blur, expressed from every inch of hoof-beaten ground, variable to graph the chewing and movements otherwise uncaptured here.
In the thickening grass, legs sharpen upward, cropped with plaid and fleece-lined denim, and beneath the ball-cap the eyes, carved and carving, in early light. The pastureland falls toward the pond dug so the cattle could cool in swelters, a morning like this, frost glazing in silver-gelatin tones,
ideal for the half-ton bulls, leather and wool. The clouds of their breathing smudge, like the ghost of his walking along the dark thicket edge of the field, tangle where coyotes wait.
Rise. Rise. Flash off the tin roof of the cabin, walls dropped, opened, screened again for a room open to the wind, and the barn, framed and rebuilt again and again, and the horse whose mane catches latening sun like grass or corn tassels, the strands caught and blurred in wind. Where ice has frozen in hoof-wells and tire-wells, light gathering to molten.
Crest, fall. Terraces dim beneath the grass and strew of hay. Shock of pine and oak rising from creekbed. Slow grade of day into shadow and canopied dark, tangle and reticulation haunted by thrashers, flickers, snakes, dogs, stray calves drowning in separation.
Slowly, the house resolving, a light in a window, a face framed but moving, lost in the grain. A boot, crusted with mud, by the door, pasture crusting off. Ghost of a foot blurring in the door. Yard and road, hay-barn, power-lines. Constellation of subdivision lights. Expanse of golf-course and empty lots. A silence of bulldozed earth, fading, masked and failing, vaporizing into thinner and thinner films, until the salts are altogether dry and quiet, dark.
Not even a father yet
even in black-and-white.
The war is behind him.
and into the fingers
The more I look, the more
and the smile now doubly bright—
what’s hidden’s never hid
Elegy for Little Girls
Puncture the mud, the iron pours out
tongue of fire, not a word
stays still but breaks along the channels
pressed in the cast floor’s sand.
Now it’s pigs suckling at the sow’s
iron teats, so many children blind
to the air and world that harden them.
A gift. Dark come on. When
the slag-man pulls the plug, fire
explodes, its violent, molten light
bathes the irons, a glow on their spines
like stained glass or twilight fades
on headstones’ crests, row on row on row.