Noon

I bend to the ground
to catch
something whispered,
urgent, drifting
across the ditches.
The heaviness of
flies stuttering
in orbit, dirt
ripening, the sweat
of eggs.
There are
small streams
the width ofa thumb
running in the villages
of sheaves, whole
eras of grain
wakening on
the stalks, a roof
that breathes over
my head.
Behind me
the tracks creaking
like a harness,
an abandoned bicycle
that cries and cries,
a bottle of common
wine that won't
pour.
At such times
I expect the earth
to pronounce. I say,
"I've been waiting
so long."
Up ahead
a stand of eucalyptus
guards the river,
the river moving
east, the heavy light
sifts down driving
the sparrows for
cover, and the women
bow as they slap
the life out
of sheets and pants
and worn hands.

by Philip Levine

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