‘Saskatchewan’ by Tom Sexton
From the Pacific Rim Desk of the RichardHowe.com blog comes a new poem by our far-flung correspondent Tom Sexton, who recently traversed North America lengthwise to open shop for several months Down East. We welcome Tom and his wife, Sharyn, back to New England for a spell. This is Tom Sexton, for those who don’t know, who is a distinguished alumnus of Lowell High School (his name is etched in gold on the wall of fame) and a former Poet Laureate of his adopted home state of Alaska. He taught for many years at the University of Alaska. He tells me you cannot see Russia from his house, anyway. Tom is the author of a short shelf of books, including “Bridge Street at Dusk,” his most recent collection of Lowell poems, available at www.loompress.com for the price of two movie tickets. We’ll have a few more poems from Tom, as we expect him to be busy at his Maine table. — PM
We came this way driving west fifty years
ago when we were young and invincible,
singing Johnny Horton’s “North to Alaska”
as we drove deep into the faltering night,
breaking our tent at dawn, running on caffeine.
Now we both bear fresh scars from a surgeon’s
knife. Your heart no longer inviolate.
A scar like a scimitar on my neck.
I watch your face when a voice on the radio
says, “My fields are beyond green with only
a little rot from rain, I’ll harvest in a week.”
On both sides of the road, the land is as flat
as a griddle. You could watch your dog run away
for a week as the old saw goes. We drink it in:
slight wind moving the grain, the endless sky,
wires sagging between poles, a red- tailed hawk.
“Beyond green,” you say, “beyond green” and smile.
—Tom Sexton (c) 2014