Monday, September 3, 2018

Eureka Lake Road

September’s fields of tall, crisp stalks
are like dry soldiers martyred by harvest—
Their innards, tender and warm produce
reveal robust kernels or rot—
the industry of cutworms, beetles, borers.
Tassels are fingered by hurried youth
unloaded from yellow, sticky buses
their bundled glands pumping sweat
into drenched long sleeves and socks.

At the lake, the basin is scorched,
undressed by drought.
Groups of family geese with black necks
and white cheeks stagger across the
cracks in the mud bed and huddle as they honk.
Their chests and bellies protrude,
hovering over the dried membranes of their feet.
They will decide to go—take flight
in their groups. Yet it is one single thought.

Creeks have withdrawn unto themselves.
The industry of mice and rabbits becomes
precarious as the hawks glide above,
dropping wide black shadows
across tan trimmed lawns
and hot pavement—a road with death,
where the skunk and squirrel corpses
have already been pillaged.
The throats of the hawks are ready,
their feathers tickled by the air.

Monarchs have lived among the milkweed
in the warmth of the summer.
Now those of the last brood dash over the road;
they dart, flutter, whisper, shout.
Their sunset wings become daring
with thick lines of black warning.
An ancient pulse within them bellows—
It is time for migration.

I am reminded of a Black Swallowtail
I found clinging to pebbles at the cemetery—
her white-dotted body
leaning under the weight of her
large and delicate arms of darkness.
I touched her blue band on her hind wings
and she stayed with me until her final fright
and she leapt away.

It is said that butterflies are a resurrection,
hope, the soul.

I yield unto what I do not know.

-Leah Herzing

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