Gabriel Fried
The Scarecrow Fair

They struggle like men trying to be proud

before the sea.  From a distance,

it’s hard to tell if they are soulless,

or if something huddles up inside

like a hutch of rabbits; and up close,

it’s painful how their posture

will not please them or pull them

far enough from itch to matter.


On a middle ground, though —a raise

that neither praises nor degrades them

—we can see that they were born

content (maybe in a caul of darkness,

a sharp nest of shapelessness) not knowing

who they were or what their danger is.


Some may accuse them of morbidity,

of waiting for the ambulance to form

from the wind’s high pitch through dunes.

But their job, if it can be named, is reminding

us we each grew up in one sort of countryside,

among decompisition and the high grasses:


We are, all of us, a product of our own

pre-industry, a tool-less time

when voices weren’t heard rasping behind

air, and our own hands filled our gloves.

We each saw as individuals the fox steal

onto the trail.  We memorized that

exact topography, the one we thought

we’d come back to in years to come:

the trail cutting clear through the acreage

and into farms abutting like dialects;

soil slightly different, figures rearranged.

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Gabriel Fried
About the Author

Gabriel Fried is the author of Making the New Lamb Take (Sarabande, 2007), which won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry.  He is a Poetry Editor at Persea Books.