Afterlives

 

Something is about to pass through. If we stand still

enough. If we sleep

 

too fitfully.

 

Early morning's glimmer of steel,

the trees—.

 

Just to feel it rushing

to stop.

 

Migration is a kind of afterlife—

 

flight that follows no

particular event.

But by this day last year the white-throated sparrows

had arrived,

successive notes, like silver flecks.

 

They never stay for long; they're on the way to Canada.

 

May 5. The absence is too high and thin

to miss.

 

          I saw no Way—The Heavens were stitched—

 

The smaller birds more comfortable with stars

fly mostly at night.

 

The nearby woods let darkness in and out

so easily

it pools each dusk at every trailhead.

 

And a little dark that stays in us in the daytime

waits.


 

Now that snow is gone we find it:

Alyce Olsen on a Nature Center brick.

 

Antique handwriting of the chisel,

all you say are names

 

and numbers

subject to dissolve.

 

Sunrise and sunset each make a path

one into light one into dark

 

but that is not where we are going

except maybe for the waxwings

 

scavenging sideways, east and west in flocks,

following the berry line.


Deer are the color of trees

when out of mud the dusk makes everything.

 

Deer are the nothing color at the edge of woods—

 

three of them poised at the curve

as we are driving by

 

but as luck would have it

nothing gets hit here tonight,

 

they don't break from safety as a deer will do

 

barging out into nothing—a different kind—

 

The river far below

is said to be for birds a low-pitched sound.

 

The river mangles everything we must have said.

 

The water is arriving, it is going away.

There are flecks of seed and talk

 

of sweetness not yet manifested in the brambles.

I don't know what instinct is,

 

but it gets birds talking up in the trees,

towhees so high you don't ever spot them

 

singing drink your tea

while down on earth you wonder—


 

will we remember the art

of flinging each other so lightly

we rise, each of us, like many ghosts, not one?

 

Two deer down the river talked to the water

with their heads down low

 

just after you and your father let her go.

I don't know, I don't know

 

what ever comes of this. But they said it anyway.

 

And when we looked up again, they were gone.

 

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