On my way home from work, I jumped the fence
and cut across the Baptist cemetery.
As I walked over Sarah Pratt,
I saw a workman standing on a scaffold
and swatting a coat of yellow paint
over the peeling whitewash on the steeple.
He dropped a can of paint, and as it fell
the paint dispersed into a mist
and spread a rain of yellow dots
across a corner of the cemetery––
the bushes, trees, headstones, and me.
It ruined my coat. I didn't care:
I felt like Danae when she
was loved by Zeus in the golden rain.
Then, looking up, I saw a hawk.
It didn't move at all––not once––
but hung arrested in the air
till I released the breath I held
in awe of its pinpoint, predatory grace.
Still watching it as I walked home,
I barked my shins on a marble angel,
slid down a bank of slick white mud,
fell in the creek, and came up laughing.
It was one of those sustaining days
when you're absolutely sure you have a soul.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1988.
Photography credit: "Yellow ochre paint spill on a wet road, Hoi An, Vietnam" by Rick Piper Photography.