Max Winter

Ten Minutes

We see a broad valley,
sloping on both sides.
The valley is not overgrown.
Every eight to ten feet,
there is a green shrub.
The shrubs are roughly two feet tall,
though sometimes shorter.
There is a sound that lasts for eleven seconds,
a hand grazing a microphone.
There are two voices talking,
both young and female.
The light is good
because the sky is blue.
From the left comes a tiny gray shape,
falling from the top corner
very, very slowly,
down, down, finally leveling out,
leaving a white trail behind it.
The gray shape grows as it moves,
suggesting approach.
The voices’ pitch has gotten higher,
slightly, though they laugh on occasion.
Finally it is evident that something has fallen
from the plane, or was dropped.
A pink finger appears on the right-hand side, pointing up.
The little dot grows a parachute,
and its descent slows.
Touching down is rough;
the human figure staggers as it reaches Earth.
The voices wince together as it happens.
Then nothing,
then we become aware
that the figure is walking towards us.
It is all in white, walking fairly vigorously.
The voices are talking, but the wind and the noise
make it hard for us to hear them.
They aren’t necessarily saying anything with compassion,
or at least the volume and the intensity of the speech
does not suggest that.
The figure, as it gets closer, reveals itself
to be an older man, wearing a white suit,
white shirt, white pants, white socks, white shoes,
walking energetically, pumping the left arm
vigorously, almost swinging it in a circle,
possibly to maintain balance,
possibly to accrue emphasis.
The voices stop, and it becomes evident
that someone knows the new arrival,
one of the voices knows him.
It’s difficult to trace the reasons for this conclusion;
it could just be a matter of pitch.
In any case, he takes the camera when he draws near enough.
We only catch a brief glimpse of him, enough
to tell he shaves each day, that he is in his mid-seventies,
that he likes to maintain an affect of happiness,
that he may well be happy, that
he wants the camera, because there is something he wants to film.
and that something is
grass. And sky. And hills of grass.
And clouds that disrupt. And clouds that have dissipated.
No people. No faces. No room left for other humans
at this small and inscrutable

Max Winter, winner of the Fifth Annual Boston Review Poetry Contest, has poems appearing recently in Free Verse, New American Writing, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Colorado Review, Volt, The Yale Review, The Canary, Denver Quarterly, First Intensity, GutCult, TYPO, and New Young American Poets (Southern Illinois, 2000). He has published reviews in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, and BOMB. He is a Poetry Editor of Fence. The Pictures is forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky Press.