The Field at Rest

Across a field no one is watching right now,
The sun sets through high orange-streaked clouds,
Sending citrine light over the meadow canopy,
Full summer crowns of maple and white oak,
Tulip poplar, shagbark, and layers of scrub pine.
Cows keep the grass cropped, but not too short,
Far from the pond, and steeper than other grazing.
Deer nibble at the edges, and bed down there
Some nights, where I have startled them in groups
At sunset, sending their hooves skittering away.
My father has buried cows in the far corner,
One time not deep enough, and coyotes scattered
Bones out in the open and far into the woods.
At this hour, the cows will have gathered closer
To the barn, and nothing much will be moving,
Just the eyes, always scanning from the edges,
Loping along just under cover of shadows.
My father is home nursing the many illnesses
Of his age, maybe on the porch with his dog,
Maybe still about feeding chickens and ducks.
My mother will be cleaning the dinner dishes,
Also stepping out to the porch to divide
Scraps between the cats and yard dogs.
Later I will call them on the phone,
Ask about the animals, their medicines,
Any trips the day might have brought.
But the field, right now, I know it’s empty,
I know I could walk through the late
Across this untraveled back trail,
Almost into another time, stepping quicker
Than the quick-closing shadows.

Jesse Graves  is the author of two poetry collections, including the recently released Basin Ghosts, and Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, which won the Weatherford Award, the Appalachian Writers' Association Book of the Year in Poetry, and the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award. He is a native of Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, and teaches at East Tennessee State University.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: New poems in Appalachian Heritage – Jesse Graves
  2. Bonnie Venters at 4:00 pm

    Enjoyed “The Field at Rest” as it reminded me of my blessed childhood… growing up on a farm in Tennessee and attending college in Kentucky. Thanks so much Jesse Graves!

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