Sturgeon

 
Suspended in murk
just off the bottom
of the deepest hole,
her wide head wedged
into the turbulence
of all that rushes
around her—leaf mulch,
spent wings, detritus
of the passing world—
she moves, when
she moves at all,
only a little, here,
then there, always
seeking the invisible
corridor of least
resistance, finds it
and waits, hovering
like a ridged torpedo,
all cartilage and muscle,
her barbels brushing
the polished gravel,
her primitive tiny brain
and ponderous heart
at one with the one
element she knows
by instinct: the cold
force of the current,
its ancient circle
of seasons, each spring
a microcosm, each moment
eternity.

 

 

 

Black Pheasant in Fall

 
Where he has come from
so near the close of day, snow
threatening in the overcast,

I couldn’t say, only that he stands
out from the two cocks pecking the ground
beside him, their coveted

bright plumage suddenly become
ordinary, common as air,
in the brilliance of his blackness.

“Melanistic mutant,” the book will explain
later when I look it up,
but while he struts and preens, scratches

mechanically in the dirt
at the edge of the plowed field
bordering my yard, he seems

an incarnation of mystery, dark
messenger from the shadow world
we glimpse sometimes in dreams.

And when he stops and turns,
stretches and flares
his green-black iridescence, I can see

his crimson cheek, and within it
the tiny bright bead of his eye
fixed on the distance, as though

aware of what awaits
all things beautiful and rare
under the gunmetal sky.

 

 

 

Daryl JonesDaryl Jones is a former Idaho Writer-in-Residence and NEA Fellow. His book Someone Going Home Late won the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. Recently his poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The American Journal of Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Poet Lore, The Southern Review, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

Header photo of pond by Kathy2408, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Daryl Jones by Danica Fiew.

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