Night Walk with Strings

‘Cause what is simple in the moonlight by the morning never is.
~Conor Oberst, “Lua”

A bare cornfield in Illinois takes your footprints.
Walking toward the unlit woods, seeds
fall in with the family of names you drop. Only a radio
tower’s three red lights witness your strange fruit.
Say one name three times and be surprised
when the train woos. Don’t ask why.

Just walk stinging to the edge of the field. Run
for heat. It takes what seems a long time. Think eyes.
The grassy edge drops low. The woods are only a string
of trees along a road. A sprawling tree creaks.
Straddle a white fallen log. Call ahhhh.
Call and call until the moon shines sharp wind.

No mountains, you don’t know which direction
you face. Relative to what. The direction is want.
For long moments, there are no names.
Tall waving weeds are not people walking
or weeds. You are not a person but a wind,
low sky, cold and creak. No one knows.

When you are done with nothing, a fox
doesn’t run by. Visit the soft moon through
the talking tree. Think of sitting in tall grass,
of what this might do to you. Don’t sit.
Climb back up to the field and walk with the wind
behind. Moving toward light goes faster.

Think better of doing magic for what you want.
Don’t plant the clean orange panties you found
tangled in the fray of your clean orange scarf
when you first stepped out the door, tired of walls
and warmth. Nothing will grow from them
in this field under the moon. One never knows

which you is casting the spell. Better to let
the huge field walk across you. Fallow. Love’s pale
stalks and cobs plowed under. Crunch with cold.
Bite with wind. Spread rich space over earth. Wait.
Gloveless, pull out a pocket-sized notebook and write
careless rows in the light of a nearby neighborhood.

Nearer and nearer your mother’s home, notice
your scarf soaked with breath. Touch your water.
Sing your song of want. Dance drunk with cold,
clumsy with clods. Sink into crusted, soft furrows.
Find the old wagon wheel leaning on the oak
where you first left the manicured yards.

Trespass, breach the stand of grabby trees
where Shadow’s name is engraved on a river
rock. Pay respect to every dog you’ve ever lost.
Hold on to your hat. Walk the paved road back
to the house with burning thighs, a fist of panties
in your pocket, smelling of Christmas night.

2012

3 Responses to “Night Walk with Strings”

  1. Fey says:

    Fav line
    The direction is Want!

  2. Uche says:

    My first impulse was to just comment with a Wendy Videlockian “!!!!!!”

    But what Fey said coaxes me to more detail. That “The direction is Want!” is definitely the powerful keystone here, the middle C of the poem, with delight in the run of octaves on either side:

    “when the train woos. Don’t ask why.”
    “Call and call until the moon shines sharp wind.”
    “Better to let/the huge field walk across you.”
    “Touch your water./Sing your song of want.”

    And just to cut up a bit, I’ll admit that “a fist of panties/in your pocket” brought me to mind of “A Fistful of Dollars.” Clint Eastwood, er, getting what he wants, dammit!

    “careless rows” is a delicious bit of intrigue. It suggests so many different directions, including the least likely: a noise of argument from through an open window in that same neighborhood from which light was stolen.

    One sonic suggestion? “Trespass past the stand of grabby trees” seems to pass up the opportunity for a powerful, internal assonance pattern. If “past” could just be replaced with something in the long “e” sound to match “trees.” For example, maybe:

    “Trespass, breach the stand of grabby trees”

  3. wordweed says:

    Fey and Uche,
    Yes, yes, beautiful readerfriends, you both found the fulcrum line! And Fey, you found it in the “Urge…” poem too, by the way (“There is no floor in you…”).

    And of course, “breach” is much much better, Uche. Whenever I’m revising, I try to pay attention to places where my inner tongue trips on a word choice, and I kept tripping here at “Trespass past,” despite the assonance. It just wasn’t quite right but I kept it. I’ll happily take your suggestion for improvement, which is always welcome. Thanks!

Leave a Reply