Daytime streamed behind the treeline.
Yellow to ghost-green to something bluer
burnt by fledged darkness. What charmed us
hurt us—the remote, glassy completeness
of song, deep inside the spruces,
poured a ring around the one
our small talk made. It came again,
a laddered trill, something we felt
in one another’s nerves, a knowledge
of time in things. Behind the trees,
unheard, out of sight, ran the stream
that broke around your sunburnt ankle
and gashed V’s in the water glare.
You lifted a foot, chopped your heel
into the current, a glum axfall tunk
in the torrent’s loud oblivion.
Earlier (how long? we live
dreamed by hours? breathed by their passing?)
you grabbed my arm and pumped, pointing,
breath sucked in like long silence
soon to cry into freakish need:
the osprey that for days had pitched
above the river, stooped, cracked
the river’s louder rush once,
twice, oaring up through the sky.
A copper something squirmed in its claws.
In our clearing, the hermit’s flight
slit the wall of big spruces,
bluer now, night coming down,
needles stacked and cross-stitched black
on black, ripped, sealed tight again,
one place where something song had been.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 10, on page 59
Copyright © 2020 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com