Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Iraq War Grief Daily Witness Day 6

A person burns in a minibus shortly after a bomb attack in Baghdad, January 21, 2007. A bomb killed two people and wounded seven when it destroyed a minibus in Karrada, in central Baghdad, police said.
REUTERS/Namir Noor-Eldeen (IRAQ)

Burning the Fields
by Linda Bierds


In the windless late sunlight of August,

my father set fire to a globe of twine. At his back,

the harvested acres of bluegrass and timothy

rippled. I watched from a shallow hill

as the globe, chained to the flank of his pickup truck,

galloped and bucked down a yellow row, arced

at the fire trench, circled back,

arced again, the flames behind

sketching first a C, then closing to O—a word

or wreath, a flapping, slack-based heart,

gradually filling. To me at least. To the mare

beside me, my father dragged a gleaming fence,

some cinch-corral she might have known,

the way the walls moved rhythmically,

in and in. And to the crows, manic

on the thermals? A crescent of their planet,

gone to sudden sun. I watched one stutter

past the fence line, then settle

on a Hereford's tufted nape,

as if to peck some safer grain, as if

the red-cast back it rode

contained no transformations.


A seepage, then, from the fire's edge: there

and there, the russet flood of rabbits.

Over the sounds of burning, their haunted calls

began, shrill and wavering, as if

their dormant voice strings

had tightened into threads of glass.

In an instant they were gone—the rabbits,

their voices—over the fire trench,

into the fallows. My father walked

near the burn line, waved up to me, and from

that wave, or the rippled film of heat,

I remembered our porch in an August wind,

how he stepped through the weathered doorway,

his hand outstretched with some

book-pressed flower, orchid or lily, withered

to a parchment brown. Here, he said, but

as he spoke it atomized before us—

pulp and stem, the pollened tongue,

dreadful in the dancing air.


Scummed and boxcar thin,

six glass-walled houses stretched beside our fields.

Inside them, lilies, lilies—

a thousand shades of white, I think.

Eggshell, oyster, parchment, flax.

Far down the black-mulched beds, they seemed

ancestral to me, the fluted heads of

dowagers, their meaty, groping,

silent tongues. They seemed

to form perspective's chain:

cinder, bone, divinity . . .


My father waved. The crows set down.

By evening, our fields took the texture

of freshened clay, a sleek

and water-bloated sheen, although no water

rested there—just heat and ash

united in a slick mirage. I crossed the fence line,

circled closer, the grasses all around me

collapsing into tufts of smoke. Then as I bent

I saw the shapes, rows and rows of tougher stems—

brittle, black, metallic wisps, like something grown

to echo grass. The soot was warm,

the sky held smoke in a jaundiced wing,

and as a breeze crossed slowly through,

stems glowed—then ebbed—

consecutively. And so revealed a kind of path,

and then a kind of journey.


RubDMC said...

for peace

anniethena said...

Peace and witness

olivia said...


roses said...

For peace and consolation

Denny in Seattle said...

Peace, please.

morrigan said...

I witness for peace.

"I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."
from Dirge Without Music
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

moira said...


TXsharon said...

Peace and love

musing graze said...