Jacob Butlett

We watch Holsteins graze on pasture grass tinged in violet daybreak.
Ospreys arc above us, underbellies haloed in gold clouds
reflected in the misty Mississippi River concealing minnows we failed
to catch the morning before. Yesterday, at noon, we ascended a knoll
to eat sandwiches & watch wild geese, turkey vultures, & seagulls revolve
across the sky. We looked on, transfixed, while bologna & cheese
fell from our mouths: suddenly, clouds erupted into the brightest
yellow we’d ever seen, the blue sky a prismatic pane of crystal,
birds soaring in unison, singing to one another until their rhapsodies
ricocheted like laughter, a catch-me-if-you-can kind of chorus.
We didn’t understand what was happening. Were we dying? Was Nirvana
crashing around us until life became variegated with light, light, light?
The air, warmer; the wool blanket we sat on, softer, like the breath
of rain-soaked mulch by our toes. Canopies of white oaks gyred
with daylight. Shadows of boughs leapt off our laps. We turned
to one another, perplexed, wonderstruck, our bodies more buoyant
than the dandelion fluff drifting over the land like lolling spume. We cried.
We couldn’t stop crying with incomprehensible amazement.
We wanted the moment to last. But it faded so fast: the birds & fluff
sloughed from the sky like wet watercolors a minute later, the world
no longer perfectly luminous, no longer corrugated with mellifluous shade:
light dulled like rust; our blanket, lumpy, scratchy, & cold.
We finished lunch in silence. Those are the moments that can shower over us,
imprint on us, clutching our imaginations, leaving wrinkles we witness
when we least expect them, like glimpses into heaven. We speculate on this
as we hike from the river, cows still grazing behind woven-wire,
steel mesh fences … Then, in a moment, the longest moment of our lives,
we remark, with awe, how our buckets of caught minnows seem
to scintillate brighter under sunup, as if we carried night’s last ripples of stars.