Peter Grandbois

The field in thistle

Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field.
                                                                                                                        —Genesis 3:18

There’s no sign of the path through the field
The path to the window
The window with darkness waiting behind
The darkness that listens to the sleeper
The sleeper with fish in his blood
The blood that knows the answer to the riddle
The riddle that opens the fevered hand
The hand that is about to strike

Thistle’s down and thistle’s thorn,
we wake slowly but are quickly worn

There’s no mote in the wind to follow
The wind split in half by a blade of grass
The grass that sews shut the mouth
The mouth filled with names like flies
The flies birthed from silence
The silence that scrapes the night
The night that balances on bitter nettle’s bloom
The bloom that stings no matter the season

Thistle’s down and thistle’s thorn,
we die slowly but are quickly born

What is it we give to each other?
What is it we fail to heed?
Where are the walls? The windows?
Where are the ceilings and floors?
Why do we need?
Why does the wasp nest beneath the eve
           continue to grow?
How do we come in from the cold?
How do we forgive ourselves
           without growing old?

Thistle’s down and thistle’s thorn,
we love quickly but are slowly torn

There’s no way to name this desire
The desire of dead sparrows beneath the pane
The pane on which broken branches cry
The branches bare except for thorns
The thorns that prick until we feel the loss
The loss that weaves a prison from the thistles
The prison that opens to a field
The field that promised to lead us home



Something like faith

I woke
to a gesture
by someone

The more
I tried
to remember
the gesture
the further
I faded,
the way
the seen
from the
like steam
rising from
a weakened

How easy
it is
to forget
the world,
to forget
the spaces
are also


Peter Grandbois is the author of seven previous books, the most recent of which is, The Girl on the Swing (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2015). His poems, stories, and essays have previously appeared in such journals as, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Denver Quarterly, and Prairie Schooner, among others, and have been shortlisted for both Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize. His plays have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is senior editor at Boulevard magazine and teaches at Denison University in Ohio.