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

Thomas James

Tom O’ Bedlam among the Sunflowers

To have gold in your back yard and not know it. . .
I woke this morning before your dream had shredded
And found a curious thing: flowers made of gold,

Six-sided—more than that—broken on flagstones,
Petals the color of a wedding band.
You are sleeping. The morning comes up gold.

Perhaps I made those flowers in my head,
For I have counted snowflakes in July
Blowing across my eyes like bits of calcium,

And I have stepped into your dream at night,
A stranger there, my body steeped in moonlight.
I watched you tremble, washed in all that silver.

Love, the stars have fallen into the garden
And turned to frost. They have opened like a hand.
It is the color that breaks out of the bedsheets.

This morning the garden is littered with dry petals
As yellow as the page of an old book.   
I step among them. They are brittle as bone china.

Thomas James, Letters to a Stranger (Graywolf Press, 2008)

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