Improvisation without Accompaniment
In the field, the tractor spins its giant wheels.
How fierce defiance is, or seems. Mechanical
in a sense: our pistons firing to set aflame
some teepee of longed-for brush, this being
hope’s kindling. Just once, I’d like to witness
beavers constructing a dam made of last spring’s
windfall, dead limbs crooked and bent. I’d like
a roan horse, a wide-open pasture to ride across.
Laughter. A bottle of cheap wine. These acres
of heartland filling up with snow and snow and—
for our next trick, what will be expected of us?
The chromosomes divide with such precision.
This is the part where the origin myths diverge.
Give me something gold to grapple with: three
apples to juggle, a scrap of paper to fold
into a dove. I have seen pigeons nesting atop
the steel beams in the station, as the trains arrive
and depart, come and go. All I want to do is sit
on the porch at evening, in a pinewood rocking
chair, and watch the desert sun melt over
the hills. But it is this notion of now that gives me
trouble. There is no parachute, and that is sad.
Matt Morton’s poetry appears in Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. He has received the Sycamore Review Wabash Prize for Poetry, and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He serves as associate editor for 32 Poems and is a Robert B. Toulouse Doctoral Fellow in English at the University of North Texas.