I grew so long next to the fields
I thought I was one of the corn stalks,
stubborn & crowned
in golden floss, weathery spears.
I pushed the dirt with my palms,
shucked kernels to taste their sugar,
crush of pericarp on my tongue.
I stood sentry where mowed paths met
& spun to see each horizon
unfold: tree & barn latched
to sky. Near the dark grass
below the dike, I practiced names
all night, so I might one day tell of this:
how at dawn a dozen herons
winged over stone-frost ground,
the Willamette stopped & flowed backward,
a single car carved a path of light
away over the bridge toward town.
You find him again in spring:
under fall’s earthpack of leaves,
small soft body. To name him
something you don’t already know:
the bushes of buds grow greener
and the neighbors
take their small dog out. You do
what you have to do,
when you find him again. This time
a proper burial, though you know
it won’t last for long. This time
a nice green sheet of earth
in a valley nearby. You cry out
in a voice only the night nurses
hear, with their soft shoes
and deep-bellied sleeves.
This time, he sits under
the moss and oak leaves,
sipping, silently murmuring,
taking the days of summer
like straws in a hand,
choosing the long one,
choosing to stay.
Anna Tomlinson’s poems have recently appeared in Blackbird, Fugue, THRUSH, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s MFA program and lives in Salt Lake City. Her work can be found at annatomlinsonpoet.com.
Header photo by bensliman hassan, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Anna Tomlinson by RJ Howey.