Driving uphill, the beams of the day perch warm
on the thighs of my jeans. Behind me, so many suns
climb the hill, one entire sun to every windshield. Together
they rise like the trumpet section, who, when they stand
press brass to their lips & will their bodies to bellows.
Right foot on the brake, left on the clutch,
I might sit at this stop sign forever, & I think
I know that woman crossing in front of me.
At least I know her stride. She loves whatever
she carries, & her hair, loose, is so much just
another tree full-leaved with wind as she turns
down the hill, I know she must hear
the vernal rush intimate beside her ears.
If we are rafts, one for another’s glory, clearly
it is her turn to be hoisted high & into the boat,
vested with blooms & medals, every small
sun lifted from its slant of glass
& set upon her breast. All our uncaged
yearnings, even my want of you, are small
birds flying to nest in the chestnut leaves
of a head so bold it’s abandoned anxiety over the top
of the rise, & now, purposefully, is bearing us,
down, toward the root of the hill. Like rain,
both the quick & the dead gather there.
First appeared in The Missouri Review
2010 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize