Sunflowers In Italian fields you stand in brown assembly. No longer girasole seeking sun, You wait for the harvest with heads bowed. I pass in pilgrimage through this Tuscan landscape Musing on the passage of seasons begun In Italian fields. You stand in brown assembly Like my ancestors in their gravestone portraits, Lives cut short by war or long years spun Waiting for the harvest. With heads bowed We stand, descendants with the dead among the graves Here in our village home, where your daughters, sons Left these Italian fields. They stood in brown assembly On Ellis Island, waiting to be enrolled, to plant Seeds of beginning. Lives uprooted; familiar ways undone As sunflowers waiting for the harvest with heads bowed. Now I’ve returned to find my face, my eyes Mirrored in such memories and the stories sung In Italian fields. We stand in brown assembly, With you we wait for the harvest with heads bowed.
Lakesong On the lake a sweet green silence floating Mirrors silver sun-sheen, poised and trembling. Here’s sharp beauty waiting to be woven, A warning to sing at the summer’s passing. As old as rocks, as busted as the flotsam Poets tumbled here—a cup, a plastic bottle, A rusted Louisville Courier daily news rack, Done with vending, wrecked along the lakeshore— All wait to wake the music of this valley Where lazy Cumberland has flowed forever. If I’m not present can I still make music? A Zoom-bound melody to rant with birds Complaining high and shrill atop the tree line. The rumble of some distanced commerce comes, Norfolk and Southern rattling on the trestle, Its fading wheels, a litany in labor Departs the valley, carrying my anger. The song is slipping with the leaves soon falling Onto the forest floor in silence. There Soft rustle and a haze of dying daylight Will cloak the melody about to vanish Like the ghost-train’s cargo of resentment. Where water awaits November’s freezing shock That breaks into a hundred shards of rock The cracks of what we always thought was timeless. I’ll have to shout the song once more, our chance To give it voice and send it out prophetic, A final summons, clarion-voiced and calling, What poets do when lightning lies strike hard, Displacing lake-love, tree-truth, voiceless songs.
Greg Friedman is a priest, writer and journalist, currently editor of The Holy Land Review, a quarterly publication of the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Land. He currently lives in Washington, D.C., and is the author of five books of non-fiction.