blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



American Bittern

Embattled in wind-dust & resounding chitter, history begins with a valley
                                     Lit by birds,
Mimic thrush & warbler, cardinals in their chapel of trees,
An old lexicon of crests and field marks
Which come and go in rushes of dark,
The rising and falling of a species,
In fragments captured
Suddenly by gravity.

From a birch shadowed window-perch, I hope to note the tail patterns
                                      In swifts of air
Upvalley; here, instead, I marsh-spot the American bittern,
Hidden among cattails and reed-shadow,
Its deep weedy song pumping and slow,
The spearlike neck and bill upturned,
Unmoving, indifferently poised there
At the edgewater's churn.

To say this spectrum of flock-thrum & earthwork is, in appearance,
                                      Something I know
Truly is to dishonor the memory of experience;
I can only report, speaking in that spotty language
Of distance, in one moment's fleeting image:
A stocky wader detected in murk-search.
Some only know through echo
How far down is down to earth.  

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