Well, this is nothing new, nothing
to rattle the rafters in the noggin,
this moment of remembering
and its kissing cousin the waking dream.
I wonder if I’ll remember it?
I’ve had a vision of a woman
reclining underneath a tree:
she’s about half naked and little by little
I’m sprinkling her burial mounds
with grass. This is the kind of work
I like. It lets me remember, and so
I do. I remember the time I laid
my homemade banjo in the fire
and let it burn. There was nothing else
to burn and the house was cold;
the cigar box curled inside the flames.
But the burst of heat was over soon,
and once the little roar was done,
I could hear the raindrops plopping up
the buckets and kettles, scattered out
like little ponds around the room.
It was night and I was a boy, alone
and left to listen to that old music.
I liked it. I’ve liked it ever since.
I loved the helpless people I loved.
That’s what a little boy will do,
but a grown man will turn it all
to sadness and let it soak his heart
until he wrings it out and dreams
about another kind of love,
some afternoon beneath a tree.
Burial mounds—that’s hilarious.
By Maurice Manning