Home PageArchivesVolume no. 6Issue 1Poetry: M. E. MacFarland

Aristaeus, bildungsroman

by M. E. MacFarland


Up past the huge chaos
       of charred brush and tree limbs
which, after a little rain, steam
       and reek of the kerosene fire that dwelled there
the day before; past the world
       of the toolshed, where sand
roughs slicks of motor oil
       and the skeleton of a ’67 Triumph
soaks in halogen light
       from its corner near the table saw;
past the yellow flesh of apples
       threshed by August sun;
past what’s visible from the house’s porch
       is a stretch of parched earth
edging along some pines.
       Nothing grows there but stones
and rushes, which cradle the glinting shell
       of a champagne Cadillac
left there from some other time
       to turn aside the years as though
they were water against
       the viscous headstones of a rapids,
and watch a boy carrying
       in the square blade of a shovel
a cat’s unmoving shape, and behind him,
       a younger boy, shuffling
the back of a hand across his nose.
       He found it maculate
with blood, torn by a stray, he says,
       and having no knowledge
of settling the affairs of animals,
       came running.
                                 Not that the other
knows any better. He knows only that place
       where rust opens like the wings of moths
and glass bottles of Coca-Cola are buried:
       that place where things can be left
in disremembrance, left to reflect
       whatever pearl-blue light
does not shun the dead. He strikes
       the solid ground and looks over
at the other’s widened eyes,
       then shrugs and gathers stones.
By now the sun is a hand closing to a fist.
       When no part of it can be seen,
they stand apart, ignorant of ceremony,
       and quietly, they turn and walk back
to their homes.
                           Somewhere, a mower
       coughs awake; somewhere, a dog chases
deer with his voice. The boys will lie unsleeping
       into the night, until the forests
of their minds are cleared
       and a slew of flies changes in the stones
to receive the fractal world, moonlit
       and shaking with a fever of life,
the translation no child has words for,
       and swarms the husk, their wings
beating every spectral color from the light.

Matt MacFarland Author PhotoM. E. MacFarland received the 2014 Southern Writers’ Symposium Emerging Writers award in poetry. His poems have appeared in “Cheat River Review,” “Barely South Review,” “Emrys Journal,” and elsewhere. He lives in Charlottesville, V.a., where he attends the University of Virginia MFA program.

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