What Is the Field?

By Leila Wilson Leila Wilson
The field is filled   
with what we see
without sleep.
Never completely   
closed, it quickly erodes   
when tilled before rain.   

If clogged with boulders
it won’t be razed
and once burdened
cannot quicken
under flocks.

The field reveals
glint and holds
leaning, pulls
twist from taut
knots of buds.

We watch the field   
for stirring, wait   
for stems to spring   
back from sparrows.

We hope for a swell   
in its middle so   
we can say we saw   
the sway that comes
from noticing.   

Water meanders
to prairie potholes,   
throws cordgrass
into switchbacks
as we push past   
bramble and scare   
a whistling wheel
of geese into air.

The field draws
hawks and sides
of trains, cradles
pools from storms
where ducks plumb
for water snails.   

We trample light   
between us,
no way to lope
in parting the swales.
We must flatten   
to fill the space
with all the rolling
wrapped up in us.   

Before home,   
the gabled barn   
across the road
throws the brightest
rise we’ve ever seen
the field try on.   

The field is not
in rows, is not   
a faded saw-songed
croon. It pushes green
a mist above mud,
shows how we make do.

We wonder
what we’re not   
in the field.
What scours, cuts,
or knocks.
If we could stay
and still feel full
the low line rounding   
out a spread
of subtle slope.

Source: Poetry (September 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2008
 Leila  Wilson


Leila Wilson teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the poetry editor for Chicago Review. Her poems have appeared in The Canary, Denver Quarterly, A Public Space, and elsewhere.

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Poems by Leila Wilson

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SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

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