Richard Long

A Blessing

On Sundays, Boy ‘Anders
would tape a picture of Marantha
to the handlebar of his bike.

At church he’d leave her
at the rack, where she’d wait,
patience, for the bells to ring—

then they’d witch on the bike
through the graveyard to the river.

Look at him now—'Anders, his bike,
the river where something’s wrong,
a bit off, an imperceptible tire leak—

sweating to the end of the boat dock
where he plays a solo for her,
a blessing, on his clarinet.

Summer, Still

They are children,
Boy ‘Anders and the girl
Marantha, alive, biking
into the woods to a pond

where they will swing
from shade into the deep water—

and afterwards be,

as their parents demand,
home by dark, not yet

legend—their bikes,
even now, the white of ghost
bikes, steel frames humming.
It is summer, still.

Sweet Jesus

When ‘Anders ascended to the hay loft,
looking for his old bike, and found instead

a blue enamel box of locust shells,
dried berries, Marantha’s scribble—

Taste them, I picked them for you, they’re sweet—

a thread-bare angel of light flapped in the rafters
and kicked sheets of dust up into the august

hallucinatory air, as if it mattered, Sweet Jesus,
the sweat dangling from his ears like earrings