The Present is Enough

She was incredible in the same way as Jupiter, the way it’s there, six hundred million miles away at perihelion, right in plain sight which isn’t plain at all – no, it’s miraculous, the fact that we inhabit a space so infinite, that we can see something so distant just by looking up, but never reach it. It makes a kind of roaring in my ears, knowing that. Sometimes the Universe is too much.

But under the hard blue skies of summer days at work (when I remember I miss her), a baby junco chirping up at me, the heavy smell of horses and creosote, my stained hands and a smushed brush, and miles of weathered fences planted in the thick of irrepressible creation

will do just fine.

Reaper Man (or, The Book of Life)

Swish. And in this the last page, an illumination: Death at work in a billow of black, his robes wind-filled and dramatic, flapping dark against the bright sky and grain, blue over gold leaf, field under firmament, and the old scythe, sharp as sadness, flashing still, slashing a swath over and along the rolling hills.

The figure is at once distant and immediate: the picture is not like the narrative, with its inexorable logic, which proceeds page by page from the certainty that its unknown is contained by beginning and end. In this page plot goes missing, caught in the grasses by the thing with the freezing eyes – how can you face the end before it comes? in the end you will shut your eyes.

Crickets, crickets. Sweat: the smell of it, and the listening grass, like late summer. Every day a clay pot baked again by the sun to be shattered, and all the shards the same. Crickets, crickets. Give me combines! Give me thunder! Not the quiet scythe, not this straining to hear! Somewhere that may yet be near, something rustles. Swish.