Walking Upright in a Field of Devils

Anna Journey Click to

ajourneyAnna Journey is the author of the poetry collections Vulgar Remedies (Louisiana State University Press, 2013) and If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting (University of Georgia Press, 2009), which was selected by Thomas Lux for the National Poetry Series. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.  “Walking Upright in a Field of Devils” first appeared in Shenandoah 56/3.

Because billy goats rise to the height of a woman
and walk upright, I saw a field of devils

blue and vertical, horned in the moonlight, heat
lightning in their luminous beards. Because the static

of grackles crying from ball moss in mesquite
meant this could be Italy, though it was the black

fields caught between strip malls
flanking Houston.

It’s true that Keats walked further and further
from England into Scotland, and the landscape grew

more grim with every step. Lakes shrunk to a slurp
in each cheek. It’s also true

that ships from a distance bob as copper weather-cocks
over thatch of cottages. True, the prickly pear

is a leper dropping its limbs in the field. What is untrue?
The shape of a lung filled like a trough

might press down on a man’s stomach –
he’d write his lover: a bellyache

brief as a devil’s beard.
In the field: goat-eyed and planetary,

something about to move, the half-bloomed moon,
a pecked-out tea rose. The sun still hours away

in another cemetery – morning stalling its laudanum
eyes over a field, a death bed. Bodiless.

Then the rise.