field

i
The night my mother was born wind
lifted the barn roof and set it down whole
in a field a mile across town—with sweetcorn
swooning up from mosaic flatland, windrows
of hedge apples pitching leeward.

And when my mother confides her longing
to return to the place where, when things turned
dangerous, she spiraled inward
to the dark of the canning cellar, its windows
like portals, the house a ship
creaking above her, and to smell the wind

raking the prairie—I bring her back
to wave upon wave of corn leaves,
arched and ripe and so precisely arranged
the idea of it won’t hold still—
The sun warms her broad face
and ordinary dress, her body rooted, finally,

in its proper hemisphere. I call to her
where she stands, a slim finger
on the horizon, and when she turns, her eyes
are afloat in their sockets. All my life
I have wanted that wind to mean this.

ii
And because nothing escaped
her father’s domain, when the storm
passed he searched for the roof
lifted by the wind—which now looked
oddly perfect where it lay, as though
the barn had sunk suddenly to its
rafters into that field—and finding it,
took it apart board by board
with a plunderer’s imprecision.

iii
Now a riot of moths rises
above the heat. Sawflies and digger wasps
thrum their hinged, transparent wings.
From a welter of redtop, gentian,
and goat's rue, a wood thrush appears,
milky throat glistening.

Nothing rests here that remembers—
not the fireweed, nor the chicory, nor
the Queen Anne's lace, its precise, dark center
a tiny, distant planet—where leafhoppers
hum and the foxtail and timothy lean:
a tyranny of cathedrals.