The shyest sparrow’s supplications in the early evening trees
are a careful arpeggio – each note liberates a flotilla of leaves
fleeting, indeed, left scattered as archipelago in a dew-grass sea.
The song’s begun: feathered entreaties lift from every hedgerow, every
field, join in one great arc of beak and wing and downy plume —
brief benediction for the worker trudging home, a heart-lifted pause
at day’s end. Summer’s pages fall. Leaf by leaf, they shorten days,
strip bare the trunks, spill forth a concertina of split, sagging plums,
crimson globes — Demeter’s heart strung low against the blue note
sky. Furrowed fields lie flat beneath the tramp of corn-fed feet.
The scene is set, two candles lit, another year opens a window
through which we pass in streak of silver, burst of wheels’ screech, breath
of horns’ bright blasting. Inside, the chink of glass against china,
bubble of laughter tossed from one guest to the next draws us
to warmth, the blissful promise of shared experience. How it swells
the soul’s bright plumage! A winking flame copies itself on the clean
slope of the knife before it passes. The reflection flickers: and beyond
the window frame, a final guest hesitates in mauve-hued shadow, ghost
of Keats maybe, listening still, reticent, reluctant to eschew
autumn’s arias. And hear now, along the bay,
the pulse of song ticks out again in joyous iteration, a boy kicks
a ball against a wall, a sole finch adds bebop syncopation. Gabble,
and its consistency of warm honey dampen the tenor, the tune — best
left out in the tang of sharpened daylight. Shadows unwilling to retreat
stand shoulder-to-shoulder and beat the day’s thrum chanting come, cold,
come, dark, come firelight, we too have our part. Gladly, watch effulgence fade,
into this gentler glow of murmured crackle and spark-fed thoughts. Each year
is gathered and falls away in a clap of digits, up from nothing to where
we find ourselves surrounded. It’s come to this: the riffle of breath, the winking
flame. One is out, then the other. Stay with us, poet, it’s time to start over.
This poem first appeared last week at the Tuesday Poem site. It is a “global birthday poem”, constructed over two weeks by twenty-six poets from six countries and twelve cities beginning Tuesday April 3 and culminating on the Tuesday Poem’s two-year anniversary, April 17 2012. My line’s there too, nestled between shadows and firelight.
The 2012 Tuesday Poets who collaborated on this project are (in order of their lines): Melissa Green, Claire Beynon, Saradha Koirala, Janis Freegard, T. Clear, Catherine Bateson, Renee Liang, Elizabeth Welsh, Alicia Ponder, Tim Jones, Kathleen Jones, Helen McKinlay, Helen Lowe, Eileen Moeller, Orchid Tierney, Susan T. Landry, Keith Westwater, Belinda Hollyer, Harvey Molloy, Bernadette Keating, Andrew M. Bell, Michelle Elvy, Catherine Fitchett, P.S. Cottier, Helen Rickerby, Mary McCallum.
Congrats to editors Mary McCallum and Claire Beynon on Tuesday Poem’s two-year birthday.
For more about this birthday project, go here.
For more Tuesday Poems, go here.