I’m standing in field 17 of the long series, employing my scythe.
Sometimes a conceptual dog bounds
past me, though it’s never my conceptual dog.
Occasionally future laureates gather for colloquium,
though they’re rarely my future
laureates. Thus, evening proceeds precisely
the way the handbook describes it:
as a proceeding: a runnel: shallow and babbling.
Into it a stranger appears. He looks like my friend.
I ask him, Are you my friend? Gravity telegraphs
its heavy message through the lolling
vines. The strangers says, I’ve sold all my clothes
and am considering, for a career, perpetual suffering.
The sun slides a tongue down the nape of the grain elevator.
Lowing cattle. It’s the fourth of July. In Spain.
I say, You are most vague and mysterious, friend.
The dog paces. I set my scythe aside and tell him,
I have employed this scythe mercilessly all my life and still
everywhere these stalks extend. He says,
Someone is always worse off than us
even at our most pitiable. Yes, I say. I read it once
in a magazine. And we laugh, let our enormous bellies jangle.
It is good to laugh with my friend and let the scythe cool, I say.
Yes, he says. Good.