A Belted Kingfisher is striking against January snow
and darts upstream, away from a surprise
undermining a sense of order. Migration flies on such strong wings of imagination
and pushes with the power of water and blood flowing
under ice and skin, it takes a moment
to see this bird rooted here, diving with me
and the old apple trees bending
into the swirls of self doubt
towards darkly hidden prey.
On one side of the bridge, cracked ice exposes
the continuous rush toward the Atlantic;
on the other side, openings of protected water
wait between the tall reeds and low brush.
Above, the clouds close their gray around hills
while this feeling of oppression
stabs at migrations. It suggests possibilities: to move somewhere else;
to go somewhere and come back again and again
and again, and once more; to rise up in a complicated world.
The wind pushes hard against the car
as I hesitate, leaning against a door that wants to close,
awkward, reluctant to drive on.
Metaphor and imagery can sometimes catch an idea with ease
or allow a deft escape as truths seem to elude
even the best sounding words.
I can visualize the blue gray bird waiting and watching
before making a dramatic dive
to come up with food or hunger;
or I can anticipate the blue gray trout moving gracefully upstream
suddenly stabbed, or squirming at just the right moment
to create a magical miss.
And while posing an old question—asking if I am the hunter
or the prey day dreaming about successful catches
and escapes—I know that this rough frozen surface
should have answers flowing underneath.
Darkness that comes early this time of the year
is already moving in, and the thermometer on the dashboard
drops as the light dims; and by stalling here,
one more vision presents itself: a mouse bursts out of the plowed snow,
freezes in the middle of the road
and lets vulnerability overwhelm the moment, looking,
looking, looking for eternity, looking
before darting into the deep snow on the other side.
No Broad-winged hawk, waiting cat-like out of sight, swoops down
with the movement of my thoughts
to snatch what it wants.
It leaves me alone to find something new,
find something left behind,
or, to make things more difficult, find both.
How does one explain a heavy darkness
now pushed partly away, shadows
that had settled over my writing, grading papers,
and the anxious lack of focus that had gripped me everywhere;
or the distancing last summer in southern France
of castles, churches, olive trees, fields of glowing red poppies—
all encountered but not pulled into the heart
with delight and animation. And the moments, recently,
paralyzed, alone in my office at work,
overwhelmed with a drowsiness and sweaty sleep
that closed the door and magnified an inner void.
An emptiness I wanted to overcome
but could not break through: a shadowy armor
woven by a sly craftsman in the middle ages—a strange image
depicted on a huge red, gold, green and silvery tapestry
hung in the corner of another museum—a dusty tapestry
with a knight wandering in the lower right corner
tugging a chain mail shirt on, uncomfortable
and hesitant in something that no longer fits.
His blue gray eyes stared at me, gripped with the fear of battle
that had been easier to overlook before.
The wind still pushes aggressively against the car door
and now blows loose papers across the front seat.
Reality has my attention for a moment.
It is time to drive up the hill towards home
and overcome this hesitancy.
I know there is a flow here
that is stronger than boredom
because I am not bored.
I look for the Kingfisher, but it has flown out of sight.
The blue gray fish is still swimming in part of my imagination.
Dark clouds, casting their spell, are not fiction
and move gracefully in the strong wind.
The moon, demanding to be seen
slips in and out of sight.