Many years ago
When I was a naked child in the forest—
Pillowed in the velvet moss,
Lying in the circle of stones,
Watching the sun play through the leaves of oaks—
Throwing sparks on the quartz,
Turning the petals of the violets
First to jewels, then to bruises, and back—
I heard the song of the wind.
It drew my eyes down to the water—
Little ripples of insect feet,
Dancing the surface tension—
To the storm-blue of the heron,
Trying to hold every feather still,
Staring deep into murkish bronze,
Ever patient for the flash of a silver skin.
My thoughts were not of words, but of sound.
Humming the minutes of June,
Murmuring mystery flights
In the tall trees—
The song of the wind, and I knew,
The waiting is the hardest part.
Slumped at a chipped formica table
At a truck stop in Oklahoma or Kansas
Or someplace—I forget,
The sound came back.
Someone was talking to me,
But I only had ears for the wind,
Playing over and again—
Between the clashing curtains,
Under the drone of engines,
Under the mutterings of tired waitresses,
And a few words on a napkin,
But nothing important—
Keeping my eyes on the water
For the flash of a silver skin.
Boarding a plane to England;
From one November to another November—
I heard it again in the whine of jets,
In the muffled rustlings of handbags,
As the lights dimmed
And the ground dropped away.
But then it was gone.
Overland, slow motion trick—
Speed that has no sensation—
Flat-topped cloud banks
Blanked with fog—
Curds and whey—
Fire river snaked through—
Illusion of flashing rouge—
The spreading of ink on fingers—
The ache of travel—
The lines strobed red, then black, and I slept.
Coming up for air
Tearing myself from the wreckage of the crash
Headlights beaming underwater
Crawling up the bank
Face on the ground
Trying to hold every feather still
Searchlights skimming just above
Straining for a glimpse of my silver skin
Pressed flat in the mud
The windsong ringing in my ears
Though I was the catch
And the bird knew not how to wait
And so I watched,
And the flash in the blue was gone in a moment.
Perhaps I will wait forever,
But not like the heron,
Trying to hold every feather still.
I will try to learn the song,
And someday I will sing—
Sing the wind,
Ring the chimes,
And melt the fields.
Because a great bird
May snatch its prey from the waters and fly,
But only to the next lake—
Only to the next lake.
And the wind sings all the world.