Brandon Young

Elegy: Field as Threshold

Early morning winds vibrate

        a corn field outside. The window drapes

fold me in a familiar light of this Indiana town,

        as the landscape of a man & I, naked

& whorled from the other, are still in bed.

        A shadow growing large from impending sun.

Not to touch me, as if controlling

        the machinery in the factory where he works,

but a different allowance of body—

        where we touch & respond. Pull close

& hold. What we have allowed ourselves

        this morning is spine-greed, metal shards,

upright bricks, followed by rail-line

        exits. He gets up—must go to work.

This is the man some boys here grow up to be.

        I don’t know it then when I kiss him—

for the last time—I kiss nothing.

        Once, I thought the body was a house

to keep all things. Still, through small efforts,

        it operates without even trying.

A house I learned through discovering

        why he could never have me—I let him go,

because I had to work too. But for a small time,

        we didn’t care what came after. How can I

chance his elegy without risking more loss?

        I think I could still love him now,

the man, as he comes back to my bedroom

        from work. Touches me with mechanical

strength. Takes me to a time before steel,

        before locomotive cars, before all the Ball-Jars,

when this bed would have stood on nothing

        but wet grass, or maybe even more field.

Here he can finally say let me begin again.

        Let me begin again—the landscape

my memory creates of him collapses

        into a torn-down factory’s deserted frame.

There the machine was once an extension

        of the boy, an extension of the man,

an extension of me. & even as I remember that,

        under the fallen bricks—exists the end

of our undoing, which will be more memory.

        More light & always more shadow.

There are stories of people lost in the corn—

        what can I do about that? I want to hold on

to each horizons unburdened stretch. I want

        to not grow eye-sick of ruin. Haven’t we all stood

at the threshold of a field, trying to see through

        its thrashing? We surrender. We go in searching.

Brandon Young (pronouns: he, him) is a PhD student in creative writing at University of Utah, and is Associate Poetry Editor of Quarterly West. He holds a BA from Indiana University, and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University where he was the Larry Levis Poetry Fellow. He has attended Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, and was a Tennessee Williams Scholar in poetry at Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in RHINO, Poet Lore, Blackbird, Foglifter and elsewhere. His poems have been anthologized in A Flame Called Indiana: New Writing from the Crossroads (Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2023).