Holding On

Green fingers
holding the hillside,
mustard whipping in
the sea winds, one blood-bright
poppy breathing in
and out. The odor
of Spanish earth comes
up to me, yellowed
with my own piss.
40 miles from Málaga
half the world away
from home, I am home and
nowhere, a man who envies
grass.
Two oxen browse
yoked together in the green clearing
below. Their bells cough. When
the darkness and the wet roll in
at dusk they gather
their great slow bodies toward
the stalls.
If my spirit
descended now, it would be
a lost gull flaring against
a deepening hillside, or an angel
who cries too easily, or a single
glass of seawater, no longer blue
or mysterious, and still salty.

by Philip Levine

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