dense field of green leafed bull rushes

When the War Found Me

I hid in high grass, resting
my head on a picnic basket full
of silverware and napkins, the blood
purling through me in long warm
rivers and my boots lying nearby,
ugly and unlaced.

I was digging my fingers
into the dirt up to the last knuckle
and drawing them swiftly out;
all my chores were finished
and so, woozy from waves of sunlight,
I satisfied a longstanding urge
to discover how nightcrawlers feel
on being plucked to feed fish.

I reclined at the base of a tree
and whittled a malformed elephant
with a blunted pocketknife.
I was shirtless and self-conscious,
feeling as I often did
that someone – some stranger – lay
stretched out on a limb not too high
above me, observing my leisure.
I still felt, then, that others watched me.

I was halfway across a field,
halfway to the house after a day spent
searching a neighboring town
for the owner of a dog that had dragged
its swollen belly to our front door
and fallen down, its dry tongue leaving
no trace on the wood.

My family was calling out news of a birth
from the porch; in their excitement
they had forgotten to turn on the lights
and I had to make my way to them
by following their voices
through the fathomless night toward home.