American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Poetry

Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Blessed is the Field

In the late heat the snakeroot and goldenrod run high,
White and gold, the steaming flowers, green and gold,
The acid-bitten leaves….It is good to say first

An invocation. Though the words do not always
Seem to work. Still, one must try. Bow your head.
Cross your arms. Say: Blessed is the day. And the one

Who destroys the day. Blessed is this ring of fire
In which we live….How bitter the burning leaves.
How bitter and sweet. How bitter and sweet the sound

Of the single gold and black insect repeating
Its two lonely notes. The insect’s song both magnifies
The field and casts a shadow over it, the way

A doorbell ringing through an abandoned house
Makes the falling rooms, papered with lilies and roses
And two-headed goats, seem larger and more ghostly.

The high grasses spill their seed. It is hard to know
The right way in or out. But here, you can have
Which flower you like, though there are not many left,

Lady’s thumb in the gravel by the wood’s fringe
And on the shale spit beneath the black walnut that houses
The crow, the peculiar cat’s-paw, sweet everlasting,

Unbearably soft. Do not mind the crow’s bark.
He is fierce and solitary, but he will let us pass,
Patron of the lost and broken-spirited. Behind him

In the quarter ring of sumacs, flagged like circus tents,
The deer I follow, and that even now are watching us,
Sleep at night their restless sleep. I find their droppings

In the morning. And here at my feet is the self-heal,
Humblest of flowers, bloomless but still intact. I ate
Some whole once and did not get well but it may strike

Your fancy. The smell of burning rubber is from
A rabbit carcass the dog dragged into the ravine.
And the smell of lemon is the snakeroot I am crushing

Between my thumb and forefinger….There could be
Beneath this field an underground river full
Of sweet liquid. A dowser might find it with his witching

Wand and his prayers. Some prayers can move
Even the stubborn dirt….Do you hear? The bird
I have never seen is back. Each day at this time

He takes up his ominous clucking, fretting like a baby,
Lonely sweetling. It is hard to know the right way
In or out. But look, the goldenrod is the color

Of beaten skin. Say: Blessed are those who stand still
In their confusion. Blessed is the field as it burns.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard. (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2004)

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