Scarecrow Colloquy


What ho, Ragwisp, how fares my Sentinel of the Stars?
Have you yet fixed for good the thrust of history?
I find you in the field as entranced as St. Jerome.

I am glad, friend, of your company.
The man who nailed me up, left me to challenge
The courage of the crow, does he still thrive?
Or has this age of snow buried him beneath?


I know him of old, high Hayhead. What would you of him?
That he unfold the motive of your wry construction?
He being who he is can never say.

The farmer he is who maintains the straggling fenceline.
He studies a-night, the gleam of his window gives
A point to my musing. Let him come riddle me
From his big book the question and solution.


He knows you not, I tell you. He has forgotten.
The weeds and nettles of his field, his goats
And cattle, are all the business of his mind.

But does he remember me ever?
When frost has stiffened my eaten coat, I seem to see him
Rocking by the fire with his dozing meerschaum
And thinking of his friend in God, the Scarecrow.


The toil of his flesh he knows, and when
The fields are silent and his children asleep
He ponders a matter you will not wish to hear.

This autumn I have warded off the blackbird;
I have stood a steady watch while the stars went down;
I tallied the moons coasting over the stubble.
I have kept faithful till the seasons scattered.


O keep the faith, Chaffstaff, by any means.
This disaster they call a world might find a pivot
If you but stand outlined within the sunrise.

I have spoken in the field till my voice became an owl.
I have viewed the horizon till I lost my buttons.
The mouse heard my thoughts and gnawed my flesh of grass.
And still I stand here, guarding the bones of Adam.



Fred Chappell, Spring Garden: New and Selected Poems, Louisiana State University Press, 1995.