THE ASSUMPTION

Fall 2013: Issue 94

Joseph Bathanti

Relentless as the season itself,

the gleaning, the thresh,

the yellow Vermeer baler

 

grinding in the wake

of the lethal haymow, scything

the dogleg on the Watauga shank

 

of East Tennessee—

clef of ink on the plat.

On a particular August evening,

 

in sacrificial silence,

the first leaf floats from Billings’ maple.

The first buckeye rends nocturnal

 

solitude off the black road crown.

Woolly worms take their interminable

walk into winterclad

 

robes of sooth. Tent worms

sleeve the locust in smoke. In praise

of Stigmata, dogwood berries

 

bleed. The next day, a Friday,

the 15th, the Feast of the Assumption—

the taking up of the Blessed Mother,

 

body and soul, into Heaven—

the families who lease the doctor’s land

hay. Come the gloaming valley,

 

tractors and chuffing baler swoon

aslant the windrows—

well after nightfall, still baling

 

in the bore of a dozen pickup headlamps.

Outlandish bundles: long grass green;

infant asters, fetal blue; Queen Anne’s lace,

 

its impersonator, wild carrot;

gentians; pricked orange

purses of day lilies; and colonies,

 

kingdoms, of snake, vole, dragonfly,

rabbits, whirring ethnographies of insects

—trussed in moonlit whorls

 

of cylindrical blonde brushstroke.

Crows chant high in white sycamores.

The bales gather vibrato.

 

Blue mantles of chaff

in the mist off Linville Creek,

the glorious apparition of fireflies

 

in Our Lady’s tiara, as she rises,

tresses of sorrow, tresses

of praise, from the harvest.