"An Old Field Encounter" - Bob Ambrose

 
 
 
"An Old Field Encounter" - Bob Ambrose
 


   It was just an old field. I have been back
more than once, perplexed
at how very ordinary in the light
of midafternoon, or morning, 
or the light-not-light of gloaming. It’s gone.
Whatever was is not now. It seems
a shame, the untame rush replaced
by shrug and stolen glance
at time, the slow ride home
for reheated leftovers to sustain
my aging. It was fall
 
     when I went wandering
blazed paths through pungent hush
of hickory, beech and white oak stands 
to forest edge at right-of-way, cut
straight across the curve of hills where
I stood blinking back the light
 
     by the sun-splashed shores
     of an old field grown wild 
     breaking over asphalt slabs
     which once went somewhere
     beyond the post hole fence 
     that vainly holds back green
     swells of sumac and thistle
     tangled in turbulence
     sparkling in the silent roar
            of  a thin place
                   opening
            onto an emerald sea
     in the presence of which
     I would remove my shoes
     wash my soul in sunlight
     and float the timeless warmth
              a new heaven 
                   and a new earth
 
But that was all and over soon, just slant
of light and insect drone, no still small voice
that could be heard above the buzz
and background trill, so was it somehow up
to me to say out loud what hangs in air? 
     All flesh is grass, its beauty as
          the flower of the field
that dies with fall – been said by better
than one who wanted just right then 
no more than now and this sweet earth 
of distant laughter, lovers strolling, 
stoic mother gently holding 
 
sleek cell phone and squirming child. Right
there beneath the freshening breeze
a shadow passed inside of me:
     You hear your heart
         not that of mine.
I found it best to follow back
the well-worn path that’s cut around.
 
I did not hear then a voice
there was no other voice but mine –
just jumbled words set in my mind
like taking sun and sending roots, like
softening ground and healing scars,
flowers dying, weed fields thriving. Who
can say where words come from
but now I really want to know
did Moses ever think to go
back to bush to watch for fire
and hear the holy words again?
He did not deign to verify,
went down to Egypt, back to reeds,
to sea, to Sinai, but for me:
 
What I know I know too well, like
what the ways of science tell,
so some fall soon I will return.
I’ll go back armed with leather bound
field guide to flora, open mind to watch 
weeds. Perhaps I’ll learn their proper names –
the way cool starry night fuzzy top vine
must be known to a branch of botany. Perhaps
I'll catch the roar, and this time listen
to the silence inside.
 
 
[portrait of Bob Ambrose by David Noah]

No comments: