Portrait of a Couple on the Grass
on a photograph of George and Mary Oppen
They have survived one another.
The earth holds them the way it holds
children: gladly and curiously affected.
His silver head piles its years on her lap.
His body seems borrowed, already an absence.
Her right hand maps his temples, his forehead.
What does the grass ask for, and the Japanese
knotweed behind them? His hand inside his pocket,
what is it holding, or her eyes under those glasses?
Here, he will sleep forever
and the shadows of trees will never
stretch long enough to enter their bodies.
Here, everything is an instant of tension –
shapes continuously touching, perching
so that one’s weight never cancels the other’s.
“Portrait of a Couple on the Grass” first appeared in Seneca Review, Fall 2010, Vol. 40, Nr. 2.