Lately, I find
that I slip loose from time,
like a strand of hair from its clip,
and no more remarkable than that.
It's like falling asleep in the daytime,
and knowing something passed by that I was unaware of,
but that did not harm me,
nor take much notice of me at all.
I half expect to find high button shoes on my feet,
and lace at my throat and wrists.
Maybe it's Emily, a glimpse of red hair I seem to see
at the other side of the garden,
disappearing down a worn track between the trees.
Now that the weather has changed
and the days are sweet with spring,
I go walking
so that I can sense you, on my skin and in my blood,
no matter how far away you pretend to be.
Anyway, I might head west and south
the next time I slip loose.
I might follow the sunflower road
until I come to the place where the prairie grass is waist high,
and a stream runs through, all unseen.
Then, my love,
there will only be your Indian eyes,
and my desire coming up quick
like wind-blown clouds
above the water that you witched to call me close,
as yours as storms are summer's.
“The new country lay open before me: there were no fences in those days,
and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony
to get me home again. Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered
roads. Fuchs told me that the sunflowers were introduced into that
country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution when they
left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where
they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first
exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seeds
as they went. The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came
through with all the women and children, they had a sunflower trail to
follow. I believe that botanists do not confirm Jake's story but, insist
that the sunflower was native to those plains. Nevertheless, that
legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads always seem to
me the roads to freedom.”