Magazine April 20, 2020, Issue

Behold

(Phil Noble/Reuters)

Let the state highway cleave cold, stubbled fields
so that both empty lanes extend like grace,
and let prim churches in the ratio
of seven Baptist to each Methodist
appear with rigid regularity
close to the road, their dead even closer,
with small, flat rusting markers on most graves,
then drive another twenty minutes more
to see the trees defer to furrowed soil
except for this one rise where pines aspire
to reach where hawks and turkey vultures rule,
and let those who have nursed the dirt behold
the blush and burgundies of morning clouds
that dare not stifle early rays of dawn
from blanketing the hillside’s eastern slope
where mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles …

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