October 2018

Watching Light in the Field

          by Patricia Fargnoli


It may be part water, part animal—

the light—the long flowing whole

of it, river-like, almost feline,

shedding night, moving silent

and inscrutable into the early morning,

drifting into the low fields,

gathering fullness, attaching itself

to thistle and sweetgrass,

the towering border trees,

inheriting their green wealth—

blooming as if this

were the only rightful occupation,

rising beyond itself, stretching out

to inhabit the whole landscape.

I think of illuminations, erasures,

how light informs us, is enough

to guide us. How too much

can cause blindness. I think of memory—

what is lost to us, what we desire.

By noon, nothing is exact,

everything diffused in the glare.

What cannot be seen intensifies:

rivulet of sweat across the cheekbone,

earthworm odor of soil and growing.

The field sways with confusion

of bird calls, mewlings,

soft indecipherable mumblings.

But in the late afternoon, each stalk

and blade stands out so sharp and clear

I begin to know my place among them.

By sunset as it leaves—

gold-dusting the meadow-rue and hoary alyssum,

hauling its bronze cloak across the fences,

vaulting the triple-circumference

of hills—I am no longer lonely.


"Watching Light in the Field" from Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, published by Tupelo Press, copyright 2017 Patricia Fargnoli. Used with permission.

Patricia Fargnoli, former New Hampshire Poet Laureate (2006-2009), is the author of five published books of poems which have won numerous awards, including the May Swenson Poetry Prize and the Jane Kenyon Award. She is a retired social worker and lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.