The Sound of Wings

by Peter Davison

1.Present Air

Snow falls off the roof with the sound of wings.
The clouds scud west to east across the sky.
Black birds, my life, starlings, jays, and crows,
perch in the tapered boughs of silver trees
waiting for something to live or die. With wings
they barter inklings of life among themselves.

2. Imperfect Water

The tide creek fell the way the sun was climbing:
two hours of height until the tide struck low,
two hours till noon. Four hours since snow stopped feeding
the waters while they turned. Their latest high mark smeared
mud-brown against a crystal sheet of snow
while last year’s fallen, near-forgotten grasses,
green all washed out by scores of scouring tides,
glared upward, ochre staining sea and sky.

3. Perfect Fire

The trees endowed us with this woodpile. Cherry, pear,
maple, and oak (with now and then a whiff
of cedar) have unlimbered, tottered,
and tumbled to the music of the saw;
have stacked their jackstraw limbs beside the barn,
mislaid their growth, fumbled their sap. Thus all
their disordered fiber has been realigned
till flame shall filter out the hard from soft
and breathe its distillation to the air.

4. Future Earth

This will have been the season’s virgin snow,
erasing every blemish, every landmark,
magnifying the earth and all therein
while it shall continue.
Whether the sun shall singe its lap-robe white
or water strip it naked to the air
or wind tuck snow high up against its shoulder,
it shall continue.
Its trees will spill their burdens to the wind
and tides will shear off fragments for the sea:
yet snow falls off the roof with the sound of wings
and it shall continue.