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Poetry

In the past, I have asked for what this may be,
            more faithfully perhaps,
haven’t I, for some covenant of intimate favor

            waiting along a byway?
So how then should it be seen, what begins as just
            a blue, late morning crease

between heavy rains, noticing the usual roadside toll
            of dark’s itinerant deer
and foolhardy raccoons, reticent miles without towns?

            Now in moments
of determined light on slowly brightening copse,
            such pleasantness,

such absence of profundity like birdsong in autumn,
            is still an ellipsis.
And yet how can that be of something so infinitely finite

            as ripe alluvion
sweeping groves of cypress trees, one in particular
            so thoroughly bleached with egrets

that its evergreen can scarcely be imagined?
            Yet dozens of them
paying me no mind, waiting for water levels to drop,

            and I not truly knowing
what they mean on this route are nonetheless together
            in the suddenness of passing.

What abstractions of holiness we are always asked
            to read and understand
as if in the brevity of even a hundred years

            we might grasp
from where all the starlings one day fall in harmony
            with shadows and leaves,

how we stray through phases of grace.
            But these egrets
in transcendent whiteness appear not to weigh notions

            of good and sin,
and though reverently steady, seem thankful for anything other
            than no present threat from above or below.

They are hungry, or tired, or content to have others about.
            Yet stark in their whiteness,
there’s never anything to regret or forgive,

            nothing more necessary
than fishing, their brood. None flutter and primp
            like we would expect

in one of Audubon’s wild clusters. Instead
            they pose, poised as if
on a scroll for meditation, accompaniment to haiku.

            Nothing in this morning’s
static of banked cloud ruffles the nuptial plumes,
            not a rising flood of litter

and duckweed swirled around their roost, nor I
            in my clumsy Keatsian desire
to join their approval of our whole imperfect world.


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