Without his scythe and crooked knife
hes simply an ordinary guy.
You see him at the bus stop,
and hes reading a folded newspaper,
or hes in the car next to you
on the freewayfirst he passes
you, and then you pass him.
It goes on like that for a long time,
but though you glance over at him,
he never looks back at you,
which (it turns out) is a good thing.
All the while youve been
waiting for the carriage to stop
(kindly) at your doorthe carriage
that would take you past the schoolyard
and the fields, accompanied by
the gentle clip-clop of horses hooves,
but suddenly you realize he might be
driving an eighteen wheeler, high on
meth, tires screeching. Yes it could
happen like that, but its just
as likely he might be the shadow
of a tree you planted years ago
falling across the green lawn.
Joyce Sutphens first book of poetry, Straight Out of View, won the Barnard New Womens Poets Prize (Beacon Press, 1995). Her second book of poems, Coming Back to the Body (Holy Cow! Press, 2000), was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and her third book, Naming the Stars (Holy Cow! Press 2004), won the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, Poetry and other journals. She holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance drama and teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.