By David Stones
Each spring he works the south pasture
and thinks only of dying
of Annie moved to the front room
beneath the painting of the barn in summer
her hands no longer fluttering
but china white and still
like butterflies resting on flowers.
When the calves totter blinking into new dawn
he thinks of his sons and daughters
no longer willing or able
to liberate life from the laughing clay
gone now to the jeweled cities
he can sometimes hear thrashing against the night
their fierce hammers of vanity.
At harvest amid the severed arithmetic of stubble
limned with gold and endings
he wonders how many bushels
and how many pecks how many rainbows
how many apples heavy on the boughs
before the fireflies flicker and the moon sets
over meadows starless and immense as blackboards.
And in winter when he dreams
it is a dream of Annie’s hands
and he is at once the butterfly
symmetrical on a gas blue petal
pondering in the vast unfeeling garden
the tangles of his landscapes
life’s pull to stay life’s push to leave.