(after Van Gogh’s “Sheaves of Wheat”)
I took my despair out to the fields
and stared hard at the sheaves of wheat
scintillant in the sun, so yellow
that flecks of the blue sky came down
to dance among the spiky ears.
Then I saw the sheaves were figures
in yellow robes tied with a sash—
that harvest gave the wheat a body,
fashioning a population
of deities from earth and sunlight.
As soon as I thought that, it happened:
the sheaves began to move slowly,
pacing with a shuffling step
and rocking to the rhythm of
a moaning chant of death and plenty.
I watched until they slowed and stopped,
returning to their former places,
and I continued walking
through the fields, happy, my mind
buzzing like a cicada.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 10, on page 61
Copyright © 2020 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com