Osiris Ode by Keith Leonard


If all I ever become
is twenty eight
stalks of corn
that would be enough,
I think. And if a raccoon comes
to shuck a few of me
in the night, or even
at noon, then, listen,
that is good. But maybe
the diligent groundskeeper
of the cemetery
hates me, the corn of me,
and would rather
drive the mower
with its wide steel well
and carousel of sheering
right over me. Corn
the irritant, corn
like a small patch
of stubble the razor
brushes over on the lumpy
Adam’s apple. What’s orderly
is intoxicating, I get that.
I button up my shirt
after a shower and feel
as though I’ve got it together.
But maybe it doesn’t rain
the year of my death.
My friends plant the seeds
ceremoniously in curved rows,
but even the grass
turns brown. With nothing
to cut, the groundskeeper
cleans the office and even scrapes
the moss off the oldest stones
with a dull toothbrush.
Then at least he’ll be forced
to sit in the shade eventually.
Even hell must have its respite.
With enough time even he
would have to learn
how to whistle.

Keith Leonard is the author of Still, the Shore (YesYes Books), a chapbook of poems. He has held scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Indiana University. His poems have recently appeared in Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, and Redivider, among others.