It whistles. I whistle back.
Dactyl, dactyl, spondee, followed
by a third or fourth bird hidden
in the forest’s miraculous meter
and I am almost sure this chorus
singing behind my cabin is not
random. Pole-straight hemlocks
and red maples hold back the sun,
tower like saints of memory. I’m alone
among old bark tattooed with lichens,
so at ease with what the world wants
of them they die standing up.
As the trunks reach skyward
their lower branches weaken each year
and fall off, useless in the dim
below the canopy like the duff
plumage of young birds as they learn
to fly. Some of those birds
are telling me about the uses of wind.
How when they catch it right
it can carry them anywhere,
maybe across the river gorge
where more birds are turning
every hour into music, reaching
for the wind, asking it to hold them.



Grant Clauser is the author of five books, most recently Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven (winner of the Codhill Press Poetry Award). Poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Journal, Greensboro Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, and others. He works as an editor in Pennsylvania, and teaches at Rosemont College.

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