—after Wolf Kahn’s The Quarters at Grass Creek
The thing is the quiet, the stillness.
The hot wind, the heavy, tossed shade
of pecan trees. The building beaten
by wind and sun, by yearlong rain—
toolsheds, they seem, too small even
for animals. And yet humans lived here,
wore the boarded-off dirt to a patina,
their gleaming, too, with heat,
with labor. And the nights they sat
singing, their voices low, steady
with patience, nights the white man
did not come to trouble them—
those are somewhere in the calm.
So, too, the dark arms of a woman
reaching to tear a small branch
from the pecan tree, carry it inside,
where its blossoms and light hold
through dreams, into morning.
And the shame that will be written
nowhere visible in the peaceful rush
of shadows across the high grass—
the clouds that are just clouds, the rain
that will be rain not absolution.
—from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Lynne Knight: “When I was in the fifth grade, I wrote a poem that had the lines ‘Golden leaves are falling past me / Golden leaves are falling fastly.’ Mrs. Sciple told me that while ‘fastly’ wasn’t really a word, poets got to make up words and do with them what they liked. That sounded like a pretty good thing to me, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I don’t remember what it feels like not to want to be writing poems.” (web)