In a field of meager flowers,
poppies, asters, barrengrief,
where the light seems penetrating,
casts each blade in bold relief,
where the weather, sheer and tonic,
tends to surfaces, to shimmer,
and the season, with a passion,
seems perpetually summer,
they sit afternoons embracing,
he propped on her ample lap,
a crude arm flung about her shoulder,
his other arm filling the gap
across his waist, holding her hand
as though that were the thing to hold
beyond all others, which it is.
The light falls warm, the wind runs cold.
Cheek to cheek they nestle, cuddle,
song issues from their bones, their hair,
music that will never carry
(o insufferable air),
silence flooding meadow, forest,
inundation rising still,
chill pervading noxious corners,
absence loosed where absence kills.
Bill wears a modest cobbler’s apron,
Flopsie’s skirt rains yellows, blues.
Apron covers neck to kneecaps,
skirt reveals two broken shoes.
Flopsie’s flimsy scarlet kerchief
marks the limits of her head,
leaving undefined the border
ending mind, beginning red.
Bill, though legs are cast for walking,
has two limbs that hang like lead.
Light, recall, is penetrating.
Nothing has been said of dread.
Flopsie’s chest is jammed with cotton,
Bill’s two arms are muslin-strong.
Afternoon is dazzle-perfect,
somewhere night is darkness-long.
From the vigil kept by longing
Flopsie’s eyes are rounded, rimmed,
stare before them, though you know they
focus inwardly on him.
Bill wears smiles for light, for weather,
wild field fragrance, heather, fir,
smiles, you understand, for nothing
more essential than for her.
It is quite enough to sit here
smelling summer seize the meadow,
holding, holding, to the other,
drained of weight, relieved of shadow.
Say the ground where they are resting
is of substance less than dirt,
is a waiting circumscribed by
dreaming, apron, holding, skirt.
Day to day, the light’s fixed angle
proves the sum of their desire.
Call it sun. Say aspiration.
Sing the coldness of the fire.
Flopsie’s skin is shaded mocha.
Lost in sleeves, Bill’s wrists loom thin.
Nothing on the wind discloses
who they are, where they have been.
Where the light falls least supportive
as, after waiting, the light must,
downpour, downpour, is the context,
raging, raging, is the dust.
Two in fields wait under weather,
wait for mouths, for eyes, for ears,
sing one song: we are together.
What is waiting? What are years?
Evening finds them, if it finds them,
darker, darker, by the minute,
never asking why the darkness
has such anguish written in it.
In the dark they huddle closer.
Bill has legs that run to lead.
We almost see their smiles grow fiercer,
almost know their hands are dead.
Herbert Morris, a frequent contributor to AGNI, is widely published in literary magazines. He lives in Philadelphia. (1980)