Devil’s Lake

Spring 2012 Issue

Gregory Lawless: Factoryville Eclogue

November fields. Ice-withered parsley and wild

alfalfa after a morning of freezing rain. I look

for heart-leaved asters in the open woods,

with rust-dusted scissors and a plastic bag. They go

in an old glass inkwell on my wife’s nightstand

and last eight days in water. Winter flowers,

she says, but that’s not quite right. I don’t

correct her. Winter is her business. Fall

is mine. Christmas ferns wither well

before December. I keep a bed of them

in a bucket out back and watch ravens

snatch the leaflets for their nests. Parabolic birds.

The color of stories. Maybe not. Everyone has a neighbor

who shoots them. Not everyone has a neighbor,

thank God. Thank God for what? For winter, the sound

of ravens sorting ferns in the snow. My wife thinks

I look too much. At what? You look too much,

that’s all. It’s fall. A truck from Dalton Lumber’s

tipped over in the field. Everyone is alive.

They left an hour ago and left their lumber. Stacks

of blond planks stained with ice, fifty yards

from dead asters. What do I tell her? They were out

of flowers. Who are they? she’ll say. The field, fall,

who knows? They were out. I take some dead ones

back, my scissors frozen shut. Thanks. Thank

God for what? The field-kill dressed in ice, a lumber

spill, generations of ravens in the firs. No snow

yet. Is that a blessing? I don’t know. Who’s in charge

of these blessings?

a photo of the author, Gregory Lawless GREGORY LAWLESS is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the author of I Thought I Was New Here (2009). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The National Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Zoland Poetry, Sonora Review, South Dakota Review, Artifice, Gulf Stream, Salamander, Transom, InDigest, and many others. He is a four-time Pushcart nominee. He teaches writing and literature at Suffolk University in Boston. More from this issue >