Red Mower, Blue Sky

by Dannye Romine Powell

From where you sit at the table
           playing hearts, you glance across the street
              at the man on the riding mower.

You’re unaware you’re drinking in
           a profusion of hues and believe
              you’re focused only on the game

at hand, or on the cool whirl
           of the ceiling fan. Outside,
              the world is thrown wide

with mad summer, the mower red,
           the man riding it, his white cap,
              the bill pulled low.

With each turn of the machine,
           his body leans out, then back.
              Years later, you will glance up

from your book
           or your stitching and even
              if it’s winter, even if it’s dark out

or snowing, you might see the red mower
           still making its way across the lawn,
              the man in the cap

leaning out, blue lacquered
           to the sky, night waiting in the wings,
              summer green and bright.

DANNYE ROMINE POWELL is the author of three previous collections, two of which have won the Brockman-Campbell Award for the best book of poetry published by a North Carolinian in the prior year. She’s won fellowships in poetry from the NEA and the North Carolina Arts Council and has won a residency to the writer’s colony Yaddo, where she slept one icy winter in the bedroom once occupied by Sylvia Plath. She has worked for many years at the Charlotte Observer, where she is once again writing about books and authors. She is also the author of a non-fiction book, Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband Lew Powell, also a long-time journalist.