The Field, a Series of Low Buildings, a Distant Road

Chad Davidson

BPR 43 | 2016



What if the planet simply shrugged its green
delusions, whole canopies snapped at the root?
What if the waters that divide us rose up

toward satellites gouging the night’s blank slate?
What if the end were as colorless as real
estate, odorless as a box of hypodermics,

if Soviet-era bombs still carried the worst
we’ve dreamed: big blisters of incendiaries
or just the nerve to harbor nerve gas?

Because last night, a blogger in England
correctly showed the world some crumpled finger
of a missile pointed at the heart of rubble

somewhere near Damascus and, from that far,
became a god who hath wrought unto us
such holy surveillance, he of little faith,

little internet wraith. The nerve of him.
Sarin, Sarin: said that way, it sounds like pop.
But how are we to sing? And what if the night—

millions of backlit screens atop mahogany
in millions of split ranches, loft apartments
perched at the center of oblivious towns—

what if the night stopped listening, stopped
watching through the night, through the slick,
frictionless windows bought on clearance,

amortized and polished? Today, for instance,
some rebels have their heads removed
by chainsaw, but this, we understand, is just

the planet spinning as it has, as it will,
ancient in its choreography. What is worse:
the fact or the fact it keeps occurring?

The house shattered to tinder or the factory
that spits munitions out like teeth? What are we
to sing among the wreckage? What the hell?

What the hammer? What the chain?
Even now, armies in fitful sleep rehearse
their grim danse. Even now, treetops shiver

those black-pocked leaves on the blacktop
and frozen lawns at the borders of suburbia.
Even now, the bully says, as he grinds

a little gravel in your face, We’re even now.
But we’re not. We’re not even close.
From the safety of our mortgages and sugar

salve in early coffee, a morning unbloodied
as the rest, waters at lake’s edge grow
eerily calm. Ducks disturb the viscous sheen

with dabbling, as do we, as we tune the TV
to a touch of death: some shooter and a grudge,
that roadside with cars tossed like a salad,

an airstrike and the shaky video to prove it.
As if we could look away. As if we could
power down and grab the running shoes,

shake the whole thing out of our heads.
As if the magnetism of the earth itself
did not pull us back to the couch. As if

we could design our days bereft of the field,
a series of low buildings, a distant road
that takes us to the happening,

which by now is just some scattered people
and a crater, a white dog with choke chain,
whose legs twitch uncontrollably.

As if we could design a less traumatic end.
As if we were designers, little animists
at the mount. There on the sunny balcony

of a rebel’s apartment, the ashen chairs,
the makeshift grill (for even then they feed),
and such a tiny canister that carried the gas,

wrought from the land, stitched together
in a crumbling state, designed in Kosovo,
if design could ever govern in a thing so small.