I didn’t mean to stay so late
or lie there in the grass
all summer afternoon and thoughtless
as the kite of sun caught in the tree-limbs
and the crimson field began to burn,
then tilt way.
I hung on
handily as night lit up the sky’s black skull
and star-flakes fell as if forever—
fat white petals of a far-off flower
like manna on the plains.
A ripe moon lifted in the east,
its eye so focused,
knowing what I knew but had forgotten
of the only death I’ll ever really need
to keep me going.
Did I sleep to wake or wake to sleep?
I slipped in seams through many layers,
soil and subsoil, rooting
in the loamy depths of my creation,
where at last I almost felt at home.
But rose at dawn in rosy light,
beginning in the dew-sop long-haired grass,
having been taken, tossed,
having gone down, a blackened tooth
in sugary old gums, that ground
where innocence is found, unfound,
making my way toward the barn,
its beams alight,
its rafters blazing in the red-ball sun.
From New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini (Beacon Press, 2016). Reprinted with permission from Beacon Press.