And one, from hunger and bitterness,
wrung the loaf as if it had absorbed
all the promises he had believed.
But between hands it regathered itself,
the way a cloud gathers itself from within,
and they didn’t see that it stayed
about the same size. He listened.
His lips sweetened. Then he slept.
When he awoke,
the ground was dusted with crumbs
as if a snow had drifted across
to cool the afternoon, and his dreams.
It lay on the backs of his hands,
the smell mixed with the grass, and there were
no flowering trees to scatter petals
and remind him of the season;
the river was too far away to whisper.
There was only the hill rubbed bare in places
from so many bodies. A lifting
breeze. And the miraculous summer
snow he would tell strangers about,
a brightness to last a lifetime.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.