Ruth speaks in old age

To watch him in the fields, his tempered violence against the grain, the long silent sweep of the scythe, the gathering of sheaves, recalls a happiness brief as kindled chaff. Beneath the tilting sun, the same strict sun of childhood, bound by the rhythm of his labor, he ignores the frailness of his body, the failing light, his shadow rising slowly to meet him. How long will the moon stall over the edge of the fields? The day-moon, a lone ghost above the grain? The stalks stir in a subtle wind that starts along the length of the descending blade— and as the barley yields to the wide arc of his endeavoring, it whispers in another tongue, and of another time, when, like the grain, he laid me on the threshing floor.

MICHAEL SHEWMAKER’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Yale Review, Southwest Review, Sewanee Theological Review, The New Criterion, and American Arts Quarterly. He is a PhD candidate in creative writing at Texas Tech University and an editor for 32 Poems.