Michael Neary © 2012 All Rights Reserved
The Curvature of the Earth
after Jules Breton’s “The Song of the Lark”
The rising sun is a blood blister
on the flattened palm of the distant
farm. The billhook at the end
of the peasant girl’s ramrod-straight
right arm extends from her mid-thigh,
its blade pointing down and back at her
right leg, a crescent moon poised
above the fallow fields like a warning
to the dawning day: do not linger
long in this benighted landscape.
The lark, fittingly, is a mere hint
at the edge of the canvas, visible only
up close or if one knows to look for it.
It could be simply an accident of oil,
a smudge on the pea-green daybreak.
Perhaps it is a bird only in the eye
of the viewer who wants violence to
have a purpose and to come always
from feeling, who sees in the girl’s faraway
gaze not the same cold tempered steel
of the instrument she holds at attention,
not even a hesitancy at facing the cutting
edge of the sharpened morning, but rather
her simple obedience to the diurnal task:
turn the earth, bring up each time a new
fleshy clod of whatever has gone before.
Lucas Jacob’s work has appeared in various journals, including Southwest Review, South Dakota Review, and JMWW and is forthcoming in Evansville Review. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is a teacher and administrator at the Trinity Valley School.
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