My daughter insists I pick her up,
let her slide the knife
between the rope and the cross-
knotted boughs we used for a mount.
Careful she works the saw-
side of the blade, the left arm
swinging free, the scarecrow slumping
like a man with barely a mile left in him.
Somewhere in the language of autumn
sighing, of winter's hooves touching the road,
a crow caws. We free his other arm,
collapse him to the field
and begin to undress him, unfastening
pearl snaps, slicing off the bloated belt,
the jeans pale as trout bellies
and just as brimmed with stringy guts.
I gather the cloth, my daughter rummages through hay,
pulling out a knitted heart, a busted watch,
a green soda bottle we might've split
on a hatchback in July, supervising the sunset.
Earring, ribbon, oak leaf, arrowhead–
she gathers it all in her small arms
and starts plodding to the house.
What do I know of the dead?
The harvest this year was good.
A month from now all the hay will go to gray,
and we will be eating on the back porch,
watching the stars bud on the sky’s black soil,
not knowing their names, which makes us
something like them.