green-winged teals

Not hiding but almost
hidden among the reeds
slender and brown
around the edge
where marsh gives way
to water — gray —
dull — the day drowsy
gray too the one — his body
though not dull — alive
his blackeyed head brown
banded green as spring
The other
a bit of earth of soil — ripe

These two the only birds
yet — disinterested they seem
one to the other
her dabbling while he
heedless — modest —
as though needing nothing
more than his own grace

Then suddenly Sun
bursts through clouds
in downpour — enchanting
in an instant
this secret pond this pair
who kept so quiet there — unseen

They must feel it — the light
all around alive — for they rise —
together rise modesty cast aside
on wings aflutter —
careless — sunsoaked —
And there in motion bared
their secret their bond
the spread of feathers shared —
numinous — O green

It’s an instant only —
Clouds close fast
veiling sun — wings close too
modest —
and calm again
all around life quiets —

These two —
teals —
They work the marshedge
as though once again
separate —
indifferent —
mere dabblers —
As though once beheld
that green — theirs
could be unseen


Look — two swans white
pass close to shore
White as mountain peaks
White as snow
As sunbloom cloud
everblossoming in blue
White as the distance between

Silent and still they pass
Necks eloquent in their curve
and the lush white fullness
of bodies held chaste
Ecstatic behind featherblade wings

O they pass but motionless
Water sky and all
the world it is
that moves by them
Their serenity white
ecstasy still and silent

They pass unmoving — two
but in reflection
one in the other — one
which is neither one nor two
but a stillness white
a holding mute on the water

Watch — they don’t take wing
already beyond reach of all
but the flight of longing
that would have them simply beautiful
Look — they pass
Yet see how still they remain


How is it lying in the quiet
the room dark and still but for breath
yours — mine — slipping between dream
the deep and waking — that breaking
the surface — that meeting — a dark little duck
whitecheeked and small waveformed body —
rises — feathers waterjeweled
lit as by sun by stars or moon
each alight she tosses her head back
and rises wings aflutter to webbed feet
finding footing on the ceaseless wavelets
beak moving joyful her song laughter
in the still room as she casts off
the gems that clutter her wings her tail
her little rounded breast — until
unencumbered by anything not her —
she settles back quiet into water and herself

O to be that dark bay swell
breathing tidewise in the quiet room
and let her dive in deep as she will

Heron in reflection


To be in exile wolfed
in his own world
The water black
him there reflected
Shoulders hunched head
drawn in — eyes yellow
gold rings wide watching
and yellow beak drawn
unsheathed in chill gray day

In the cold the gray the dark
reflection on the stillness
the water
he watches unmoving
watches a wolf himself
gold ring eyes yellow blade
drawn ready
for a sun to enflame
Ready in the gray
for the great blue to be

brant in winter


no mistake
wavecurve breast
and wings open
spread against the air

Grace herself
untethered unmoving
Her sunlit feathers
catch the still
the frigid brittle air

She lets it hold her
Lets it O gently
release her
modest magnificence
as motionless
she descends
as if nothing more
than feathers bones flesh

As if
just a bird
coming to earth

on love


It’s a woodbrown sparrow
atop a gray stone ridge
a wall enclosing lawns
trees and groomed shrubs
Boulders upthrust bold
disrupt the order the park
as if untamed unlike the rest
massive but unmoving
while all the while the sparrow
quick ruffles her feathers
spreads her wings that she
might fly but unconcerned
perhaps for who knows her mind
closes them again modest
around the small the beating
the unassuming
the unbound wild she is

to a dead cormorant


Already in the sand the black feathers
wings splayed and twisted neck
so confused with driftwood shells
it took that little beakend hook
to see suddenly and then draw from
the chaos the lost order
the vision of sleek magnificence
how you must once have stood
in afternoon sun hooked wings open
feathers spread drying yourself
after diving deep in the dark bay
you with your two elements only now
binding to this third not yours at all
it seems already it’s started
the inert reclaiming from flight
from soaring diving this you carried
feathers flesh bone You give it back now
abandoned but where o where are you?



For the grace of this plover
skittering at the running wavedge
taking lightly briefly to wing
then again to quick legs
in the sun the surfroar
whom do I have to thank?

She doesn’t care perhaps
Her stifflegged beauty
neither gift nor weight
in the waves’ uprush and fall
as she stalks and stabs
life hiding in the oceanwashed sand

With or without me the sun
the sky’s far blue the thundering
of whitemantled green waves
or this stray gray feather hers
or another’s generous letting me
see the offshore breeze it rides away