Three lightning flashes: past, present, future.
Three flints: chose two; strike them together.
Wind and smoke— a snapping sound
like wet canvas, or crow’s wings.
ghost wagons on the tall grass prairie.
Quantrill came with his wild retaliations.
What was he seeking? What had he lost?
Late afternoon in Lawrence—
autumn’s smoke. Shadows with long skirts
cross the public park. The bandstand
with the Russian dome is empty. In the trees,
committees of birds argue over the note-sequence
of vanishing summer melodies.
The electorate of leaves twirls in the air
with yellow faces,
with scarlet wings.
Over the grass, a man approaches me,
so thin, dark, untranslatable,
he is already some angel’s charge.
His dim, gray eyes plead for food, talk,
clean sheets, birthday candles,
a Mulligan in life.
Instead he asks for a light.
I offer a book of matches. He shakes his head.
I strike a match, cup my hands.
His face leans in.
The tip of his cigarette ignites.
Our eyes meet.
Who is the giver? I wonder; who the receiver?
Please, please take
whatever you need.
© The Estate of Sandford Lyne