Tom Sleigh

(Texas / United States)

The Meadow

Across the road from where we nap
under a dead elm dazzles the meadow
where the partisans strung the traitors up,

the meadow which their dangling shadows stain.
Belly up in vines a blasted tank
rusts flake by flake to lichened scrap iron

while horseflies harangue
the rippling green, July
a limbo of quavering yellow...

We wake to cattle lowing at dawn,
grass overgrowing summer—so like us
in love each hour with the noonday sun

that neither toils nor spins, its brightness
hovering, blinding us...
What would the dead say if they could see us,

lounging, talking, peering through brambles
at cemetery photographs sunk beneath
the undertow of milkweed shadows,

death dates smoothing back into the stone?
I think of Goya's demon, old man flesh
hanging from his bones, long teeth bared in

an ass's grin as he scrawls on a schoolboy's
slate, What more can be done? Nothing...
while behind him a noose etched clean as

the moon rises through the inkblot
spiraling back into the hanged man's mouth
as if blackness poured from his throat:

"When will you tire of us bogeymen,
caricatures of your father's war,
our crimes half-forgotten, unforgiven?

All future blotted out when they hauled us
from our beds, our minds went dead
to everything but fear: Nightshirts

soaked in snowlight's pall, we hunched in mud, each step
loud, too loud beside the farmhouse wall,
the seconds teetering till we drop...

What our betrayals were we know
with a knowledge intimate beyond revenge,
history the needle's eye you can't squeeze through.

The partisans cut us down, heaped us
in a mass grave our relatives dug up: Yes,
there were tears—even for us...

Now, like aliens from space on your TV shows,
we ravel into mist, surrounding
you the moment your eyes close...

Our pupils search out yours from behind
the mirror with your father's stares,
fathers and sons melding in one mind—

but who are you to call us traitors, an outsider
judging through the smoke-haze of home:
Each blow exact, our own neighbors

beat us till the blood ran, beat us black
and blue...Even now, would they dare take us back,
older, wiser, necks broken by the yoke?

Moving in time as to a dance we buzz
and swarm across the meadow, dissolving
and glinting like fireflies in the hedge,

blown like milkweed in the moon's wall eye.
But under your lids, you see us locked in cold,
shattered wheatstraw flecked in ice:

Chill as the night air on your sunburned neck
our eyes like X rays pierce the frost,
stalking every step the living take."

Submitted: Monday, July 14, 2014
Edited: Monday, July 14, 2014


Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Meadow by Tom Sleigh )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. If, Rudyard Kipling
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  5. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  6. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  8. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  9. No Man Is An Island, John Donne
  10. As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes

Poem of the Day

poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass, --
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
...... Read complete »


New Poems

  1. lux et umbra, Ann Dow
  2. S.O.S., Sandra Feldman
  3. Something is in the House, Sarah Liz Bowman
  4. Tragedy and Comedy, Eugene Levich
  5. Bound to thaw, george albot
  6. Not Obligated To Offer Options, Lawrence S. Pertillar
  7. A taste of love, JJ Evendon
  8. Greeting Cards, Sara Fielder
  9. The Lorry From The North, Tony Adah
  10. Father's Admonition, Tony Adah
[Hata Bildir]