April 18, 2009

Middle-Aged Men, Leaning

Middle-Aged Men, Leaning by Bruce Taylor

They lean on rakes.
It's late, it is evening
already inside their houses.

The children are gone.
Their wives are on the phone
talking softly to someone else.

This frost, this early Fall
upon their minds, a small
measure of patience and regard

as if the twilight world
in bright papery pieces
diminished so and thus.

They lean on hoes
in Spring the green earth
turned once more beneath them

their eyes full of flowers
their hands full too
of the planting still to do

the weeds and drought awaiting
their pocketful of seed
the water they must carry.

In an early winter dark they lean
on shovels, a graying heart
a last bad rap inside them,

looking upward toward the sky
the yard, the driveway, the car
the street, the world

itself for all they know
buried by the falling snow
even as they gasp to breathe

and re-breathe the visible breath,
like a burst cartoon balloon
of an old imperfect prayer.

In summer, after long mowing,
they lean toward a growing
silence in the plush grasses

in leaves of many greens
in trees of their own colors
where grackle and crow

each to its own shadow
in the dusky reach of branches
gather quietly to stay.

in the dusky reach of branches
gather quietly to stay.

Do you have a poem you love, and want to share? Inaugurated by the Academy in April 1996, National Poetry Month (NPM) brings together publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets around the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through.

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