Where he stands in bare feet, the electricity of earth will pass through
complicated highways and out his raised right hand to the air.
Everything’s in front of him: a leafy stick, a cup, the willing sword, the
star that would turn even a dying ant to the hinge point of new
Rose and lily collapse at his knees. In the folds of his robe, the words for
cures assemble their army of breath.
Meanwhile, the Ford and Honda race by at oblique angles. Johnny Cash
floats his hurt voice across the land. Children are kneeling in his yard,
screwing their eyes into the hiding places of locusts.
For people like him, the world didn’t always fuss with itself when the
moment called for silence. Cooper’s hawks might have clicked in a
gyre above him.
Still, the lovers need him, and the cars, and the chemical ground and sky.
And most of all God, the first electrician, whose son did pretty well for
himself, whose son got the union started and led the major advances.
God still needs someone barefoot in the two-level house on Oak Knoll, the
man’s voice-mail spilling out half-brained threats by an older sister, the
man’s daughter running his way right at that moment with a bee sting
on her nose. God still needs someone who can speak the language.
In the slow haul out of winter, his hand will remember how the wind
kisses, finger by finger, the weakening arguments of the cynic.
A mile into woods, they found the missing boy, his tricycle dragging
behind him. He ate the sandwich they gave him. He said he wasn’t
One day a woman could walk this neighborhood of old homes and not
look back at every sound the melt or a screeching door will make.
There in front of her, the finches, the wet street.
One day the woman will believe in the inviolable. The uncontaminated
sun and moon have shone on her all her life. Unbroken history has
colored her breath, her appetite. One day the body will accept its own
destruction, one aching joint, one ischemic attack at a time, on its
way to a perfect marriage with what made it.
Main Street prepares for its parade by sweeping walks and posting sales,
by hanging the fluttering banners from one window to the next:
Welcome Home. Crazy Days. The sidewalk fills with white shirts, the
aroma of sugar.
In the slow haul out of winter, a hand will remember the name and plant it
in the ground. In that way the ground enters the man. Through her
eye across the blue, these finches. Through the boy’s refusal, the boy.
Everywhere the world turns back toward human beings as if, once
forgotten, they’d grown new again.
And behind the slow-moving horses, behind the high school band glaring
at noon, the gray dissidents are still marching: Save Us.
Richard Robbins’ recent poetry collections include Radioactive City and Other Americas. He directs the writing program at Minnesota State Mankato.