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Scarecrow (for Matt Shepard)

Left in a field to bleed,
to disappear,
you looked across the Wyoming night.
Your eyelids were heavy,
your head a meteor of pain.

Did you witness yourself stand,
disoriented but intact,
and meander down the dusty road
like a drunkard
almost but not quite
past the point of no return?

Did you see your mother
dashing from her 4x4,
coming to cradle your head in her hands
and carry you to the safety of your home, your room,
plaid flannel bed sheets,
posters of Kurt and Madonna
to watch over you as you slept?

Did you see a mob,
a line of scarecrows
shouting obscenities,
shouldering clubs, rakes, shotguns,
marching toward you
the finish a job
two other boys couldn’t?

As light overtook the plain,
did a million flowers bloom,
daisies, bachelor’s buttons,
mountain pinks and purples?
Did you smell the sweet pea?
Taste the honeysuckle?

Did you feel the touch of a lover
beneath your chin,
bringing your gaze to meet his?
Did you hear him say the words?

Did you raise your fist in anger,
pound the ground beneath you
in an impact such that
shock waves shot through the globe
as they watched us
and shook their heads again?

As your eyes closed,
as you exhaled
and the pain faded
from your fractured skull,
did you know?



It's been nine years since Matt Shepard was beaten and left to die in a Wyoming field. This poem was inspired by the "cyclist who found him and initially mistook his limp body, tied to a split-rail fence by his murderers, for a scarecrow."

© 2007 Robert A. Geise