Poetry Moment: 'Nearby There Is a Field', by David Bauman
This is poetry moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.
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On the way to a treatment facility to visit his son, poet David J. Bauman pulled over to view a stunning field of flowers located right next to a cemetery. “It all felt huge and symbolic,” he explains. Find out why in today’s poem, “Nearby There Is a Field.”
David J. Bauman has published three poetry chapbooks, most recently Angels & Adultery (2018) and a collaboration with his son Micah, Mapping the Valley: Hospital Poems (2021), both from Seven Kitchens Press. He grew up in the Lock Haven area and currently works as a library system director where he lives in Snyder County, Pennsylvania.
A hospital is its own country. In “Nearby There Is a Field,” David J. Bauman juxtaposes inner and outer landscapes. He shows us who he is by allowing us to see who or what he is not. The numbing effects of pain are everywhere.
"Nearby There Is a Field"
Nearby There Is a Field
of flowers, a wild congregation of color,
bordering Valley Road and the graveyard.
But in this place where you stay,
the walls are barren. Fluorescent halls
empty into rooms that smell of sweat
and solvent. Something unnamable
lingers in heavy curtains, permeates
linoleum. Nothing here like a flower,
nothing green or growing. In that field
between farmland and ridge, the wind
bends each bloom and breaks against
the headstones. That isn’t right; it doesn’t
break, it wraps around the names it
cannot think to say. It whistles, mindless.
It has no plan. As I stand in the hall
outside your room, there is a girl sprawled
on the floor and crying. There is wildness here
that empty walls deny. Storms blow through us.
If I had a choice, I’d be wind through the valley,
bending what I could, bowing where I had to.
But here in the hall, with the girl in tears,
I am stone and blank. Not columbine
or lavender. Not chamomile or yarrow,
bitterweed or aster. Nothing like a flower.
Originally appeared in Watershed Review, Spring/Fall 2020
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That was “Nearby There Is a Field” by David J. Bauman.
Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at wpsu.org/poetrymoment.
Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.