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Sample Poems by Robert W. Crawford



The Road Agent


She stopped me just inside the door so I
Would know some news for me that couldn’t wait:
“Just met a man you know—a Clarence Ward.
I was looking out the window when he knocked.
I was waiting on the flowers for the table,
For you to cross the field. It startled me.”

“Strange hour for a visit. What brought him by?”

“He wants our vote for road agent this time.”

“Well, it is the only job worth having here.”

“Don’t start. You like it here. Let me go on.
I didn’t want to leave the window for the door
And must have had a frown when he began,
Because he took a step back off the porch,
And put his thumbs in his overalls, like this.”
She did a perfect imitation of
The man whose farm is out on Fremont Road.
“He ended up too far away to part
With flyers on the things he’d do for less;
Just started in: ‘Hello, my name is Clarence Ward
And I’d like to be the road agent again.’
Said he ‘knows the importance of a road done right.’
Truth is, I do believe he is sincere.”

It was something about the way I know she turns
And keeps her head when the story isn’t over.


“And that was all?”

         “I wish it was the end,
But the way he stood, and that earnest voice of his
So full of this concern for cracks and holes—
It may have been the way the light was falling
Behind him in the street, I just don’t know—
It made me laugh.”

         “You laughed at him out loud?”

And all I could think of was her laugh and how,
On some days, you know, of all the loves,
Why this one.

         She took the flowers from my hand.
“If you see Clarence, tell him I meant no harm.”



 A Row of Stones

In those December storms that start as rain
But end as snow, I try to count the flakes
As they begin to fall. But it’s in vain.
I lack the dedication that it takes
To be a census taker of the snow.
I’ll be distracted, as the tumult breaks
Across the field, by a long gray narrow row
Of stones, a wall within a stand of birch:
A thousand stones at least, pried, grasped below,
Pulled up and piled. In this hard springtime work,
The greatest effort spent to make the wall
Was lifting each the first inch off the earth.
I know when things get high enough they fall;
I’m struck in wonder that they’re raised at all.



 That Light

No longer near enough to overhead,
The sun seems bent on caring as it leaves.
The angle of retreating light divides
Each color and its shadow, making me
Abundantly aware of what it granted.
I see and hear much farther now these evenings:
I see the lower fields, the distances,
And all those things in need of gathering;
I hear the talk of neighbors closer to
The center of the town. And in this light,
If I can sit still long enough, I know
I hear you breathe, and see you raise your eyes,
Reflecting all my certainty of how,
Within this clarity, you call my name.


 
 Exposed

I thought I could imagine, looking down,
The field had grown a little different from
The weight of us; the ground indented where,
Upon this hill, this grass—that blade still bent—
For just a kiss, we deserted all the world.
Looking up, I saw an open place
Less secret than the one that I remembered;
The eyes that would remark could see this spot
From an embarrassment of vantage points.
Our privacy had been a phantom thing.
Back then we hadn't cared who saw us, lost
To all the fields of view except our own.
I marveled at our heedless indiscretion.
I wished only to be there, exposed again.