November fields. Ice-withered parsley and wild
alfalfa after a morning of freezing rain. I look
for heart-leaved asters in the open woods,
with rust-dusted scissors and a plastic bag. They go
in an old glass inkwell on my wife’s nightstand
and last eight days in water. Winter flowers,
she says, but that’s not quite right. I don’t
correct her. Winter is her business. Fall
is mine. Christmas ferns wither well
before December. I keep a bed of them
in a bucket out back and watch ravens
snatch the leaflets for their nests. Parabolic birds.
The color of stories. Maybe not. Everyone has a neighbor
who shoots them. Not everyone has a neighbor,
thank God. Thank God for what? For winter, the sound
of ravens sorting ferns in the snow. My wife thinks
I look too much. At what? You look too much,
that’s all. It’s fall. A truck from Dalton Lumber’s
tipped over in the field. Everyone is alive.
They left an hour ago and left their lumber. Stacks
of blond planks stained with ice, fifty yards
from dead asters. What do I tell her? They were out
of flowers. Who are they? she’ll say. The field, fall,
who knows? They were out. I take some dead ones
back, my scissors frozen shut. Thanks. Thank
God for what? The field-kill dressed in ice, a lumber
spill, generations of ravens in the firs. No snow
yet. Is that a blessing? I don’t know. Who’s in charge
of these blessings?
GREGORY LAWLESS is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the
author of I Thought I Was New Here (2009). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The National Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Zoland Poetry, Sonora Review, South Dakota Review, Artifice, Gulf Stream, Salamander, Transom, InDigest, and many others. He is a four-time Pushcart nominee. He teaches writing and literature at Suffolk University in Boston..