The Last of the Harvest by Matthew Miller

The Last of the Harvest

I’ve been keeping a census
of squirrels, naming the circus of thieves
who gnaw the blackbirds’ seeds.
With empty beaks, the grackles still sing
a morning song, its solos low
over a chorus of insects. Voices tumble
from the church over the hill,
down the pumpkin vines like geese calls.
All this tangled, impossible
to separate. I don’t have patience
to decide which knot to tear
first. The sunrise splits
over ironwoods and pine. It streaks,
dusty pink, on the white logs of the fire.
As I child, I slept with smoke-
scented sweatshirts, rolled as a pillow.
On Sunday mornings, the songs I liked best
were sung by the dove, perched alone
on cold peaks. I keep trying
to live that moment for the rest of my life.
The weak, beautiful hoot shimmering
up my spine, like grandmother’s voice
reading verses to me. A distant train whistle.
The world is going on, but does it need
me? I listen to birds sullen tweets,
hungry hymns of lament, and I want
to be content. I must get to my feet,
unlock the garden gate and invite
the squirrels to the last of the harvest,
to glean ground cherries and
clean the colors from the grapevine.

by Matthew Miller

Twitter: @mattleemiller32

Editor’s Note: Every line of this beautifully written poem uses precise imagery and thoughtful line breaks to support the central theme.

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