Reaper by Billy Collins
 
As I drove north along a country road
on a bright spring morning
I caught the look of a man on the roadside
who was carrying an enormous scythe on his shoulder. 
 
He was not wearing a long black cloak
with a hood to conceal his skull-
rather a torn white tee-shirt
and a pair of loose khaki trousers.
 
But still, as I flew past him,
he turned and met my glance
as if I had an appointment in Samarra,
not just the usual lunch at the Raccoon Lodge.
 
There was no sign I could give him
in that instant – no casual wave,
or thumbs-up, no two-fingered V
that would ease the jolt of fear
 
whose voltage ran from the ankles
to my scalp – just the glimpse,
the split-second lock of the pupils
like catching the eye of a stranger on a passing train.
 
And there was nothing to do
but keep driving, turn off the radio,
and notice how white the houses were,
how red the barns, and green the sloping fields.
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