“Rye Fields,” oil on canvas, by Arseny Meshchersky, 1900.

by Hayden Saunier

I fell in love with a field of rye.
It happened this spring for the first time and I am not young.
Let me tell you how this field
was both a single being and a multitude.
How it lay open to sky, wind, creature, sound.
How it rippled and flowed, bent, bowed, lay down, arose,
stood tall, grew taller, held its ground.
It hummed and whispered.
Sometimes it went completely still.
I watched it build itself out of nothing but chemistry
in a few short weeks, each stalk forming
leaflet, segment, grain head, braid, fine hairs.
As it grew, wild daisies bloomed inside the long straight rows,
each a separate question to do with love.
Some days the sun drove patterns through the furrows,
weaving self and shadow into its warp and woof
and every single color would show up, threading stems
with teal, bronze, azure, purple, silver-white.
I stood rapt in adoration at its edges.
It held the whole world for a while.
And even when the rye was cut down
and lay flat on the earth to dry where it fell,
the all of it radiated a gold and silver light.
Even then, it glowed.

Hayden Saunier is the author of five poetry collections, most recently A Cartography of Home, published in 2021. Her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize, the Rattle Poetry Prize, the Gell Poetry Prize, has been featured on The Writers Almanac, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and published in journals such as 32 Poems, Beloit Poetry Journal, Pedestal Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Virginia Quarterly Review. www.haydensaunier.com @Hayden_Saunier