Eye of a Needle
Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland
Hard to tell the mourners from the exercisers,
heads down as they fan out
from the parking circle, pistoning steep paths
beyond the columbaria,
Rihanna maybe hidden in one hand.
An open book, slab pages uncut;
a few cherubs, in need of a wash,
among the headstone crescents–then the mausoleums,
higher up that same crest, each a little country jail
sheltering the 19th century
smelting families, Navy admirals, barons
of Folgers coffee. Poor Wintermute,
once hung with a “for sale” sign,
though who could blame the grandson?
Ghiradelli with his bar of chocolate
tucked in a fresh fake wreath at every season.
One wickless candle, if there’s an altar
inside, plastic roses facing a bench
for nobody to sit on, and a painted pasture
in the opalescent window, usually
a pane or two gouged out.
New locks on some door grates
as though they’d guessed we look.
Sensing rain, carpenter ants
funnel up the same granite slab my friend would lean against
like its animated grains.
They thin to single file within the shelter
of carved letters, revising a hook to a ligature,
busy at their lip of space.
Jaspar County Almanac
Three orange vests against sage grass.
The duct-taped scope
the skinny one steadies
on a rotted stake–
same break in the ditch wire
where, at dusk, on the other end
of work, bucks scour
the wind for urine scents,
heads rearing at each swerving
of our flicked-on brights.
Rain’s prediction means
more topsoil, slopped as soon
as possible into local gulleys
to jostle with earlier stormwater
so that, driven down
any hint of a track,
PK fertilizers pull
from surface sheets
and in ditches a farm or two
away, the mixture blooms
as blue-green algae’s
galactic swirls. Slinks
toward waiting drains.
Nate Klug is the author of Anyone, a book of poems (The University of Chicago Press, 2015), and Rude Woods, a modern translation of Virgil’s Eclogues (The Song Cave, 2013). He works as a Congregationalist minister and lives in California.