Stephen Dunn
In the Open Field

That man in the field staring at the sky

without the excuse of a dog

or a rifle—there must be a reason

why I’ve put him there.

Only moments ago, he didn’t exist.

He might be claiming this field

as his own, centering himself in it

until confident he belongs.  Or

he could be dangerous, one of those

men who doesn’t know

why he talks to God.

I thought of making him a flamingo

standing alone on one pink leg,

a symbol of discordancy

between object and environment.

But I’ve grown so weary of inventions

that startle but don’t satisfy.

I think he must have come to grieve

a good friend’s death, and just wants

to stand there, numbly, quite sure

the sky he’s looking at is vacant.

But I see that he may be smiling—

his friend’s death was years ago—

and he might be out there to savor

the solitary elation of having discovered

what had eluded him until now.

Found In Volume 34, No. 04
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Stephen Dunn
About the Author

Stephen Dunn is the author of 17 collections of poetry, including Different Hours, which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book is Lines of Defense (W.W.Norton, 2013).