Hear the Kingfisher
Awkward Human Folly
As sea mist fogs my window, I no longer
see the pair of swans lift up on webbed feet,
shake out wings and beat the blues
for sun’s return. I miss their long landings
on orange pontoons, the swish of water
parting, wake soft under their white chest
as they settle into their favorite chair.
All this white surprises me,
as did the wind dying yesterday,
when I watched a lone man with his ice boat
slip and stumble across the bay, dragging
dead sails behind him on his long ice walk,
with no neck in a graceful S-curve, wings
broken and his voice hissing low grunts.
Last night, we dined on plump
white asparagus served on cheerful
china plates with a crevice for mayonnaise.
(The chateau has been restored
to a desideratum of elegance and culture
by Madame & Monsieur Tormos.)
As we tucked in, Madame Tormos said, “The garden
was sown on top of ancient monks’ graves.”
She tends the vegetables today with a care
which harkens to old days of Saint George,
before the sound of hob-nail boots marching
into her hall, or smell of burning panel walls.
Villagers blasted out from blood and barbed wire,
changing bread-line crumbs into wheat fields,
ploughing pain into the earth
and seeding old furrows with poppies.
Now the abbey’s red brick wall, topped with red tiles,
seems a perfect buttress against any kind
of perpetration. The wall, centuries older
than any of us, withstood five hundred years
of occupations. This year a Nazi helmet
was dug up in the garden;
it hangs on a hook in the stables.
A yellowhammer perched on it and sang–
behind him the church tower pitted
with bullet holes. How perfect,
this morning the passionflower, desideratum,
on the wall beside the window.
Will death be like crinoline oak leaves
waltzing in a summer breeze, rumpled and airy?
Will spirits float together in clumps or alone?
When they meet, will they say to each other
“Do you remember on earth when we...” Will we see God?
You stamp your feet into the earth
as you walk, as if to make sure the ground
remains solid. I doubt if we will need toes
or shoes where we are going.
I feel sure we will have a great adventure.
After all, there’ll be no need to go anywhere,
we will have arrived and I’m thinking
I may learn to sing.
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Awkward Human Folly
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