Arrivals and Presences
The San Pedro River is a major migratory pathway for birds in North America. Our new home looks across the river valley, so we are getting a distinct sense of incoming birds as the weather turns toward winter.
The Arrival of Sparrows
The sparrows have arrived here now.
I saw a shadow on the wall;
The silhouette was pert and small;
The shadow peeked with bob and bow
Above the shaded eaves, so all
I saw was just a head and beak
Beyond the solid roofline’s peak,
And then a burst of wings to fall
In graceful swoop to earth, to seek
For fallen seeds. From shadow dark
To small brown bird with white eye-mark
She changed at once. I saw her wreak
Quick search upon the ground, an arc
Among the clustered sage for seeds.
And here and there, among the weeds,
Upon the graveled ground, the stark
Bright earth, her flockmates feed;
They patter busily around.
I trust my infant garden found
At least some of their breakfast needs.
A late night excursion with the dog led me outside to look up at the night sky. In our neighborhood the old electric poles and lines are still very much a part of the scenery, and the moon appeared to have been tangled into the mix!
Half moon hangs beneath
bar of electric pole, chills
I wrote this poem while sitting outside looking across at the mountains. The lines did not flow easily; frankly I felt as if I were hewing them out with a pickaxe. Despite this, I’m quite pleased with the finished result.
Blue and high the bright October heavens,
Clear the air and crisp from off the mountains,
Sweet as though it were new born this morning,
Breathed out of the ancient mountains’ vastness,
Whose proud souls still guard the greening valley.
High they stand: in sun their cliffs gilt silver,
In the shadows purple; and their breathing
Brings the air to me in piercing sweetness.
Green the leaves that touch October heavens,
Wrap their leaflets round the breath of autumn,
Touch its unseen face with grateful wonder
While their silence sings of rain and sunlight,
Clear, bright air that laughs with them together
By the hour, for time is but the passing
Of the light and shadows, sun and moonlight,
Bright new leaves and trunk of thirty summers.
So I enter this bright world, both ancient
And yet new with each new breeze that rises
Off the mountains, passes through the treetops,
Comes to me with songs no time can silence.
Many autumns here have passed without me;
This I touch as one among the thousand
Passing lives: the leaves, the wings or flowers
Greet the presence of October heavens.
You may have seen the triple appearance of Jupiter and Saturn, lined up with the moon in the early night sky. The simplicity of the three, spread out more or less in a line, somehow put me in mind of the classic simplicity of the ever-present groupings of three in folk tales and rhymes.
The moon and Jupiter and Saturn,
Three things in a row,
Simple as three things
(Pigs, French hens,
Or mice or bags of wool)
In a nursery tale or song.
Here they are
Arched across the sky:
Three spots of silver in the luminous blue,
Three worlds for wonder.