Fred Marchant (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Chair of the Humanities Department at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, and Associate Editor for Poetry at Harvard Review. His first book, Tipping Point (The Word Works, 1993), won the 1993 Washington Prize in poetry.
The hot sheep stink of it,
the delicious one-another.
Ours to nuzzle against,
yellowed, matted, oily.
To stamp and huddle
the green hillside with.
Through the arrival of rain,
the opening of clover,
through the radiant clusters
on untouched timothy.
Grateful, not quite mindless,
my heart almost in it.
Petroglyphs at Parawan Gap
Under a sheaf of haze,
the sun has found a way.
We finger the signs
like Christian doubters.
Our shadows stretch behind
in salamander shapes,
and begin to look like
those chipped in the slate.
Are these what you meet
in desert, emptiness, night?
They make you pray, no matter
the green, cultivated life
of caution and concern,
that you'll be allowed to return.
A broad sloping lawn dotted with picnics, plaid blankets.
Families bunching like grapes, lovers opening like petals.
A boy—yes this is me; no, this is not me—pale from illness.
He pores over his comics, and is deeply affectionate toward
their narration in blocked images, their bubbles of talk.
I think this day he is happy as a cricket on a stem.
When he finishes chewing a cheese-peanut-butter Nab,
the odd orange crumbs on his lips, he wearies of reading.
Waters lap the pond's edge, as if a swan is passing by.
His mother pats the boy's hair before he joins his father in sleep.
In this he will become me, and I him.