Visible Spectrum
Todd Davis

Visible Spectrum

++++. . . we both believe and disbelieve a thousand times an Hour, which keeps Believing nimble.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++—Emily Dickinson

June light drapes itself
across the hay shocks
Jacob Peachey gathered
with his sons
yesterday afternoon.

New grass already sprouts
at the base, and in a few days,
when the hay dries, he and his sons
will lay up the shocks in the loft.

I don’t think Jacob knows
how Monet painted haystacks
obsessively, stepdaughter
wheeling canvases in a barrow
so he might work at refining
the aspect of light
as it slid down the roof.

This time of year the sun
appears a little before five
and lasts until nearly ten.
Jacob values the light
that illuminates the work
he and his sons must do.

Next week he’ll send
his milking cows
into the field
to eat what fell
and was left behind,
as well as what’s new
and just growing.

I wonder what the grass feels
as the cows bend to tongue
each blade, releasing the light
that’s been stored
through April and May.
Jacob faithfully studies
the light, notes
with nimble believing
the way it ripples
over everything
it touches.

Some days, after mucking
the stalls, like Monet
Jacob counts the layers
of light, marveling
at the fragility, his hand
passing through the visible
spectrum, as the sun
slips into the gaps
and shines brightly
between the barn’s
rough boards.

Todd Davis

is a fellow in the Black Earth Institute and teaches environmental studies at Penn State University's Altoona College. He is the author of five books of poems, most recently Winterkill and In the Kingdom of the Ditch, both published by Michigan State University Press. He is the editor of Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball (MSU Press, 2012) and Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets (SUNY Press, 2010).  His poems have won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, and the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Bronze Award and have been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. New poems are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Gettysburg Review, Artful Dodge, Louisville Review, and Poet Lore.