mary ruefle

 

THE GREAT LONELINESS

 

By March the hay bales were ripped open

exposed in the open fields

like bloated gray mice

who died in December.

I came upon them at dusk

and their attar lifted my spine

until I felt like turning over an old leaf.

So I walked on, a walking pitchfork.

From every maple hung a bucket or two

collecting blood to be distributed across America

so people could rise from their breakfast

healthy, hoping to make a go of it again.

Now this is a riddled explanation

but I am a historian of pagan means

and must walk five miles a day

to cover the period I will call

The Great Loneliness

and the name will stick so successfully

that for years afterwards children will complain

at meals and on sunny days and in the autumn and at Easter

that their parents are unnecessarily mute

and their parents will look harshly down

upon the plates and beach towels and leaves and bunnies

and say you don’t know what you are talking about

you never lived through The Great Loneliness

and if you had you would never speak.

And the children will turn away

and consider the words, or lack of them,

and how one possible explanation

might be that inside our bodies

skeletons grow at an increasingly secretive rate,

though they never mention it,

even amongst themselves.