Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sonnet sequence I, VIII

I. Farm Country

Through clouds of sunlit dust and fields bare
awaiting seed, awaiting winter rain
and growth of cover crops, a tractor hauls
its load. A plume of dust five miles high--
or so it seems-- rises into the air,
promising green rye and golden grain
in season. Not now. Summer's turned to fall.
The last wash of blue is fading from the sky
and west beyond the Coast Range, thunderheads
are lurking. You can feel the moisture pressing.
The farmer knows, with every seed he spreads,
time's nearly up; this is the last field he's dressing
for the winter, stripping off the stubble.
If he doesn't plant it soon, there's trouble.

VIII. Serpentine

We walk up from the rest-stop parking lot
through pines and grass. The road-cut shows us rock,
green and wet-looking, unfamiliar, not
the black basalt we know. And sudden shock
grips us with primeval fear-- the rattle
of a snake disturbed from rest. The lines
we saw but did not notice, now recall
in whip-curved weals, scars of serpentine
sex in the dust, tracks of mating snakes.
We've stumbled on a scene of amorous battle--
not one snake but two, a double-take
that's worthy of Tiresias. Stone called
serpentine, found in these southern hills
breeds up these snakes whose loving bite can kill.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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