The friends have gone home far up the valley

of that river into whose estuary

the man from England sailed in his own age

in time to catch sight of the late forests

furring in black the remotest edges

of the majestic water always it

appeared to me that he arrived just as

an evening was beginning and toward the end

of summer when the converging surface

lay as a single vast mirror gazing

upward into the pearl light that was

already stained with the first saffron

of sunset on which the high wavering trails

of migrant birds flowed southward as though there were

no end to them the wind had dropped and the tide

and the current for a moment seemed to hang

still in balance and the creaking and knocking

of wood stopped all at once and the known voices

died away and the smells and rocking

and starvation of the voyage had become

a sleep behind them as they lay becalmed

on the reflection of their Half Moon

while the sky blazed and then the tide lifted them

up the dark passage they had no name for


When I was beginning to read I imagined

that bridges had something to do with birds

and with what seemed to be cages but I knew

that they were not cages it must have been autumn

with the dusty light flashing from the streetcar wires

and those orange places on fire in the pictures

and now indeed it is autumn the clear

days not far from the sea with a small wind nosing

over dry grass that yesterday was green

the empty corn standing trembling and a down

of ghost flowers veiling the ignored fields

and everywhere the colors I cannot take

my eyes from all of them red even the wide streams

red it is the season of migrants

flying at night feeling the turning earth

beneath them and I woke in the city hearing

the call notes of the plover then again and

again before I slept and here far downriver

flocking together echoing close to the shore

the longest bridges have opened their slender wings


There are threads of old sound heard over and over

phrases of Shakespeare or Mozart the slender

wands of the auroras playing out from them

into dark time the passing of a few

migrants high in the night far from the ancient flocks

far from the rest of the words far from the instruments

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