Across three brown fields and as many roads,
a round white barn and its square white house,
the barn, thimble-sized from here. Above these
the sky going on and on for miles, the way
Winslow Homer in the French countryside,
painting Cernay la Ville perhaps en plein air, his sky,
summer blue and cumulous, most of the canvas.
Toy-like below, clustered farmhouse and barns.
Foreground, a green field half the size of the sky.
And it's true here, too. This rural landscape
I've been staring at, almost twenty years,
but just today—standing in the art museum,
drawn by the outdoor light in this small painting,
oil on mahogany, 1867, another continent—
learning this about the sky.
How many other ways have I been blind?
Decorating the Graves
Cemetery on a hill, wind whipping
our hair and clothes, carrying off words
across the rolling farm fields
just beginning to bristle with corn,
green penmanship neat as a careful child's
precise lines. Memorial Day and
my middle-aged brother and middle-aged me,
doing one of the few things
we still do, just us two,
decorating the graves—parents, grandparents,
great-grandparents, great uncles and aunts
we never knew, an infant second cousin, 1926,
another, a girl of twelve, 1931. Children
of Edith and Robert, whom we never knew.
Such grief before antibiotics,
before our time, a grief we never knew
the way we never knew
the feel of the black hand pump standing,
top of the hill against the sky.
Never knew what it was to wrestle
the iron handle up
and down like a strong man's arm.
Never knew priming the pump, waiting
for water to splash out.
Water on tap, what we knew.
Made in China, the flowers we've brought.
They'll bloom all summer and fall, winter too,
and next May, will hopefully (like us),
though faded and frayed, be blooming still,
only a few petals torn away by wind.
DAYE PHILLIPPO is a graduate of Purdue University and Warren Wilson MFA for Writers. She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship and an Elizabeth George Grant for poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, Crux, The Comstock Review, The Fourth River, Cider Press Review, Great Lakes Review, and others. She teaches English for Purdue University and lives in a creaky, old farmhouse on twenty rural acres in Indiana with her husband and their youngest son.