by Kathleen Kirk
Winslow Homer, On the Stile (1878)
I see the girl climbing the stile over the fence
after the boy, holding his hand,
and there’s the idea of threshold or boundary.
The idea of no return.
Nothing seems real—the wooden rails,
the wooden steps, must be wood
(color, shape, logic) but they look painted,
like the boy, as if dreamed
or heard about, from someone else’s memory,
not observed as existing
in the world or time.
So even if there is no return after crossing over
the stile into the pale green meadow,
perhaps there never was any meadow, and the shadow
of the girl’s legs under her white skirt is no more shadow
than it is muscle or motion
and the breeze caught in the blue ribbons
on her straw hat
is as unlikely as it appears.
But she seems very real to me in her desire
and uncertainty, holding his hand, climbing up
but looking down, just about to take
the last step.
Copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kirk.