Back to Issue Twenty-Three.

Meadow Song



From The Veteran in a New Field by Winslow Homer

In the absence of rain, the wind sang

heavy on the branches & the boys
came with matches & coveralls,

tractors & gasoline. All morning they worked
methodically—pulling us from our beds

as if we were weeds. They had come before:
packing us with care, sending us as silage

for the cattle in the winter. But the drought
had changed them. The herring stayed south—

& the fishermen’s nets stayed empty.
The crops were late to bloom & the boys grew

hungry. & though their almanac whispered dry spell,
it did not speak of fire. Did not speak of the cold

turning of blades. No, the boys did not listen—
delirious with hunger. They doused the land

in gasoline. Gathered us in a clearing
large enough for the sky to see. & whether

the sky could see or not, & whether
the sky cared or not, the almanac did not say.

& when the boys lit the fire, we broke into prayer—
the wind raising the flames higher & higher,

the boys in the distance watching us burn.


Paul Asta was born in South Korea and raised in the Chicago Suburbs. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Indiana University Bloomington, where he earned his MFA in Poetry. Recently, he resided in Cork, Ireland, where he studied Creative Writing at University College Cork on a Fulbright Grant. You can find him on twitter @impossipaul.

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