Abel, Almost Asleep in the Field by Mark Wagenaar

When I’m still
I hear the bagworms twist in their cities of clouds
in the elms & maples.
I hear something break the skin on one of the peaches
in the branches above me, almost

I can hear the light strike their fuzzy globes

(What becomes of the four pounds of sunlight that strikes the earth
each second? One day someone will discover
                                                                    what we are born knowing,

that gravity bends light
& just as the earth draws the light
so does each body

pull us, our five-, seven-, ten stone enough
to pull someone,

even a trace
a hairstrand a shadow),

a sound as quiet as someone wandering without direction,
half of him in sun, just like the earth.

Filling his pockets with stones. And even quieter
than a long look at a river

are death’s two hundred horses, mouthing the dark without a sound,
as quiet as forgiveness.

Their hooves resound in me like the steps of every one I have called brother.

A horizon as dark as horses,

as crows descending, a distance

dark as the throat of God. The shadow I cast
                                                                    I cannot see.


Mark Wagenaar is the 2013 winner of both the James Wright Poetry Prize & the Yellowwood Poetry Prize. His book “Voodoo Inverso” won the 2012 Pollak Prize. His poems have been accepted or published most recently in Tin House, Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, & Image. He & his wife Chelsea are doctoral fellows at the University of North Texas.