Finally! A poem! I’ve been feeling decidedly unpoetic the last week or so (not the least reason for which is that I’m trying to polish up three short stories to send to a contest; the first short stories I’ve written in, ugh, five years?), but the workshop last night did its job of jolting me back into a poetic frame of mind. Furthermore, Margo had a prompt with paintings, which I wanted to try:
This is “Crashed Aeroplane” by John Singer Sargent. Something about the men continuing to work with this crash in the background: I first thought, maybe it’s at the instant that it’s happening, then I thought, maybe it’s long after it’s happened, and the work must go on. But then I noticed the pipe in the rear figure’s mouth, and the phrase, “It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it,” popped into my head. And the rest of the extended metaphor tumbled out from there.
I tried to layer the metaphors and possible meanings pretty densely without giving too much away; I’d rather see what people get out of it. But anyway, that’s that.
The scythe-man chews his pipe as he works,
humming along with the locusts in flight.
He is all sweep and method when he comes,
sweated through his shirtsleeves. No one
ever said this would be an easy job.
Wind tonight, says the gathering-boy,
hugging the stalks to his chest, his arms
all flecked with blood. The scythe-man nods.
He looks back at the lilied house
shut up tight and wonders about the gables.
They bring quiet wherever they go, save for
the hush hush of falling timothy-grass.
A cloud-boat reopens over a golden sea gone
summer-noon green. These small disasters;
the scythe-man says one’s good as the other.