By Sean Gunning
There was something in the air that morning
tugging loose wisps of post-war, chestnut-colored hair
from the harness of their clip
as I set about mending the fence at the side of the road
with unlubricated tools
listening to the creaking Miller’s Farm sign overhead
and the quiet of the hens, the goats, and the hogs,
while every pale-blue polka dot on my dress
surrendered again to the burning, yellow sun.
I heard the sound of distant clouds rumbling
and I saw, through ripples of rising heat,
the first blur of you—your armor an open shirt to the wind.
You growled by in a tremor of envy-colored thunder,
then slowed up ahead, and turned, and returned
to stop only a few feet, a heart-beat away,
while “In the Mood” played on the wireless
hanging from the lop-sided gate at my side,
and by the look in your eye
I knew I’d surrender to you
if you asked me to; if you were patient;
if you stayed a while.
We talked for hours that first day
and leaned together into twisting turns in the lane,
while a week passed like a day,
and I held on as tight as I could
hoping your heart would ripen as mine
before the day’s sun went down;
before my first time as a widow
was upon me—heavy and naked,
with slants of the day’s final light
raining upon us through the wood of the barn.
You never said you loved me
or that you’d be back this way again,
and I didn’t ask if you’d remember me
after you’d gone.
But every morning when I hear the rooster crow
I feel denied.
And every year on this day I stand here,
where the wireless hung on the lop-sided gate,
listening for a change in the weather;
for electricity in the air;
for the sound of a gathering storm,
while the prairie breeze whispers
through the tall weeds along the side of the road.
And I hear the sound of distant clouds rumbling,
and I see, through ripples of rising heat,
the first blur of you—your armor an open shirt to the wind,
and you growl by in a tremor of envy-colored thunder,
and slow up ahead, and turn, and return
to stop only a few feet, a heart-beat away.