Mudlark No. 55 (2014)

Harvest Blackbirds

With the rice harvest finished the stubble fields stood empty.
Even the corpulent rats that ransacked the granaries slept contentedly, 
leaving us to our human silence. At daybreak, we walked along
the irrigated terraces that held the blue-white mirrors of the sky. 

I didnt know that foreigners were welcome at village funerals 
and I went with you to a neighbor’s home and saw the women 
form an oval of chairs around the stiffened corpse and sing 
with their rosaries of a better life to come. I watched how you stood 

within yourself, passing bowls and plates to the men squatting 
in mourning on the porch, and when your hands were empty, 
how a small glow hovered there, lighting your face like rows 
of small candles shadowing the burdens of Mary. 

While your family slept, you asked me to hold you, 
then told me to let go, so I might learn how for many here 
each rice grain is a minus sign. I don’t recall most of what 
I dreamt except the flights of sated blackbirds flown away 

too high to offer us the refuge of their shadows. I stirred to 
the wild deer, branches snapping in the dark—their silent guidance 
on how I might follow you across the dew-gemmed meadow. 
But you woke before me to vanish with the daybreak moon.

Peter Marcus | Dawn, Sumatra
Contents | Mudlark No. 55 (2014)