—after Peter Brueghel
Why a tree except the world sustains?
The harvesters’ clean whites so far
Like fountains, water drops of grass heads. Like
postscript, endless roads through Flanders.
Close up, men like lapel buttons
through haloes, mending, mending.
Like snakeskins, white shirts against gold.
The maze leads, panoramic, to the earth’s shelf and
two patrolling birds’ small forms
like masters, thrushes out to play. Cleared
land a coffin slab,
each bundle laid for grave, each harvester
asymmetric to a chrome haystack staggered
into silence (I can hope)
by a thrush more intricate than
whose throaty bone work amplifies an
eagerness for lunch.
The workers whittle out their ground.
Branches shade the bread slicer.
with embryonic warmth across his
beside the trunk, life force shot
from the navel of the earth. In the
town outside the town, haystacks
like the legs
of the new world.
Even past the distant village, more
exploding wheat. A tiny wagon
carts a block of butter, dense but
cuttable, a dune
to feed the township energized, hungry, small and
faraway—ice skaters on a green.
Past them a backdrop behind a screen, the
leaves a lattice.