Wayside Rest

The path goes up into the sky
where odd clouds in late summer stray,
then down again through wheat and rye,
       and baking bales of hay,
to where the forest shadow starts.
The trail goes in, comes out, and on.
There are good stretches, then the parts
       when all the water’s gone,
the road’s tarmac, the sunrays blind,
and there’s no rumour of a breeze.
That’s when you’ll need good luck to find
       a brief file of such trees —
greengage, damson, mirabelle —
planted for shade and for refreshment,
or by a man whose fences fell
       after he upped and went
to his grave or to God knows where.
Glossy yellow and frosted blue,
we eat the fruit and we should care,
       but we’re all passing through.
Even these trees seem to ask us:
who’s journeyed farthest across the earth?
From Asia Minor and Damascus,
       grafted from our birth,
we’ve come to a Czech road, although
we look like natives of this mile.
Even these laded trees, even so,
       just rest here for a while.

from Early Hours (Gallery, 2015) © Justin Quinn 2015, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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