A Hoof for the Vagabond by Jake Fournier

Something about the gun was off, we grew up
thinking and promised that much and that aimlessness to ruin
a sitting room, sans divan or stool, that’s something
like the great outdoors with hedges
creasing the yards
fielding a tree between whose elbows something ripens like a question.

Time hadn’t passed, just some was missing,
not that that prevented me when driving down
from seeing freshly how little I could at night.
The houses and shrubs were drywall for wallpaper darkness.
The darkness concealed denser foliage,
the long hemlock needles
massaging pinecones into obscurity—things I’d seen already
in a dress rehearsal for the present.
And the meaning to tell you, as I meant to say
goes beyond what’s said
to teach that density and that freedom to mean
our leaving’s what the trees have seen to,
themselves and tomorrow. Even emptiness
has a backdrop, which, though you expected everything,
is spare.

You came down, woke up over an hour,
said this should have happened before
as it has to other people,
people who hold you awkwardly sometimes and who, others, stand away
thinking how you’ll fail
those whom nameless lackings made want you
and those, telling time by what flowers are still living—
now irises, now violets—whom you take inside,
and whose velleities, unknown to themselves,
appear to gather into a wall,
an apparent willingness shaped inside a cloud.

Cross country,
men are ballooning over yellower,
more dilapidated Pennsylvanias. I’d find it alien
if it weren’t that my father used to sponsor one
(Fournier Construction). We were chasers once—
With camouflage
binoculars pressed to the windshield,
we pursued ours like a memory past its purpose
to the farmhouse where it bent to stripe the field.
“The Devil’s Horse!”
the farmers joked. Alfalfa and rye
in the silos, the farm had invited its neighbors and, when we got there, us
to sweetcorn. The waxier, yellow-white strains—
Sugar & Gold, Double Standard—
were through. They were on to Country Gentleman
and Argent. (Thinking about it, I feel butter
on my chin.) Of course we knew each other then,
but we were my family in this stanza,
Phil. I hope it’s clear by now I want this to change
you, that there are reasons, looks, touches
you apply to patience thinning the life in every gesture
you make, and though each seems it’s being made then, before whomever, original,
you bear them like departures; if they give
you an innocent air—an opal if—
you are a die—uncertain until the instant shows
you natural tendencies not overmastered by
      the advantages of contempt for doing without.

The afternoon is over Gospel Hill watching the sun into Canada.
My shadow abandons its stilts at the edge of a barn.
It’s been converted since—
I’m sure this time it will be easy.
The latest leavings, the drones who needled from the wainscot in March,
returned eager for the weather to begin.
We follow then,
exploiting loopholes, listening.