It might be anywhere, this dusty
road winding from Ucross to Ulm.
You hike its scrub and shale, later
]carving initials in the soft stone,
lying back to dream under sizable sky –
I’ll be good, I’ll live forever,
bone-buoyant earth stretching off
to Dakota and Montana, a drained
Eocene ocean full of soil-swimmers
shoaled up in mid-life, mid-stroke.
It might be anywhere – a road to Delphi,
or Deadwood, the Via Appia as it nears
the Adriatic at Brundisium, wherever
gravity is the cause of flat water.
But it is the road to Ulm. Continuing
then through Clearmont and Recluse, and
likewise, all along in there, Wyoming.
John Hews (1685-1793)
“He long wished for death, and would sometimes cry like a child…that God had forgotten him.” – Babson, History of the Town of Gloucester.
Sun in the trunk! The days escape!
Odd science, Franklin wouldn’t have it.
The tulips nod like gossips: “Goodies,
listen to Methuselah mutter.” Sawdust falls like sparks of butter.
One hundred and eight years! Old enough
to reminisce about my own old age.
A Struldbrug discovered by Gulliver,
or a tree,
without the luck to be struck by lightning.
Silence, lackwit! Rest thy relics
against the fence, count clouds:
Cadiz, Vigo, Virginia…
Cadiz forgets itself, becomes a schooner,
bottom-dark, a ballast of rain. The boy
in the bow watches flying fish leap
from the Sargasso Sea, arc in air:
kings, colonies, witches, wives…
on the Cross. That’s the New Testament.
I wearied of the need for resurrection,
learned to look at the grave and pray,
“There, but for the Grace of God…”
The corn sways thinly amid the beans.
A shower humbles the tulips. Ladies,
listen: sixteen of my lives would lap-
strake back to Jesus! I’m that old!
And green with envy for an apple tree.
Sandy says a centurion worked
this farm, a fundus, booty-bought
after Actium. And Michelangelo
when the Buonarroti’s owned it.
Sandy, the two boys no longer
boys, and our friends Mitch and Kate.
The chianti’s grown and aged on site
by Signor Buondonno, whose vines
climb the darkening hill, hedged
by fence from Bacchus-minded boars.
Mitchell says, ‘in veritas, wine.’
The farmhouse terrace, thatched
over, opens on groves of holly,
olive and cypress, wind-worried
shapes in the rain. We’re dry
for the time being. A cuckoo counts
to some impossible o’clock.