Steven Winn

Tomb Relief
    Egyptian, Dynasty 25-26

The haunch of beef he’s shouldered
Is the size of a scythe, its handle
Tapered to a knife-point hoof.
Close behind a second servant bears
A tray of twenty leavened loaves
Balanced in a wobbly pyramid.

Each man also holds a duck,
One cradled in the hand from back
To keel, the other gripped so firmly
By the neck the wings expand
And tail flares out, each incised
Feather a last wish for flight.

How grand a feast was this to be,
What jars and unguents, other lavishments
In store for Mentuemhat’s long night?
No clue from these servants’ stony eyes.
And anyway, as stories sometimes do,
This one shears off just beyond the haunch.


They’re down the left field line blowing bubbles,
tearing after them, under them as they rise
like aimless high fly balls toward an empty
center field.  No league game today, again.
A sprinkler set near second base hiss-thocks
a silver arc across the infield grass,
greening it for whenever games resume,
the men in numbered uniforms in place  
across the diamond.  So for now they’re free,
these children chasing bubbles in the park,
the careful breaths they’ve caught and sent adrift
to glint and shimmer in the sun-glazed sky,
free to track them as they go, the frantic
thrill they feel at what they’ve lost for good.

Steven Winn is a San Francisco arts critic and former Wallace Stegner Fellow. His poetry has appeared in 32 Poems, Antioch Review, Cimarron Review, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. His memoir, Come Back, Como (Harper), has been translated into nine languages.



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