Silence, too, is stunned,
envelopes the land you live on,
amorphous mystery, a still surround.
What color is the numinous?
At sunset, a voluptuous rose,
then violet. You stand in a quiet
you're not a part of, a presence, witness
to what you'd have called tranquility,
but today, fear swindled time, rendered
the order of hours unintelligible,
a laying on your shoulder of spindly fingers,
anxious and crooked, the feel of weight.
Distantly, the calculation is violence:
how many watch the exercise of power
roll out, gathering backlash
with momentum? You've nothing
to do with such force, but closing unwilling eyes
can't protect you. Beside yourself,
you hear a voice you know to be grounded
in soil and love, saying There's lettuce.
Let us? Let us what? you wonder. S adds,
I must harvest the lettuce
or locusts will finish it off. How to arrest
the locusts of greed? Literalist
of the imagination, S cultivates
his winter garden, which nourishes
the living world of this acre. Even humans
making salad in the ruinous violet dusk.
In the fourth stanza, I reference a remark about the once-absolute power of
Southern slaveholders over the industrial North, made by Jamelle Bowie in
his article, "Why We Are Not Facing the Prospect of a Second Civil War,"
in The New York Times, 15 February 2022: "But with power came backlash."
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Cynthia Hogue’s most recent collections are Revenance and In June the Labyrinth. Her tenth collection, instead, it is dark, will be out from Red Hen Press in 2023. She lives in Tucson.
Photo credit: Courtesy University of Arizona Poetry Center