Each year they show up in the bare tree by the river bridge like dutiful grandparents making yearly pilgrimage upstream. We never witness their return that may well take an alternate route
noted elsewhere by others likewise amazed at these dark birds’ faithfulness with keeping their singular splice in the way things are —dotting their bare tree like musical notation
side-turned heads flagged whole notes in early summer’s long-awaited hymn of praise
Near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Does the river know we’re here in any sense like how the gulls follow Great Lakes fishing boats for scraps thrown overboard perhaps unaware that we know they were once dinosaurs but only by studying rocks the river wears down in time spans all but meaninglessly long to most of us the river always thinking about what may be ahead or trying to remember what it left behind or why the deer who come down to drink both morning and evening are said not to step in its same self twice?
Ed Zahniser grew up in the wilderness movement. His father Howard Zahniser wrote the 1964 Wilderness Act. Ed’s book, Confidence in Being and Other Poems (2018), includes poems from Alaska travels with Olaus and Mardy Murie in what is now the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Writing of Ed’s Mall-Hopping with the Great I AMpoems, Bill McKibben called Ed “a freelance theologian telling more truth than all of the tv preachers and all of the tv pitchmen put together.” Annie Dillard called the poems “a Blue-light Special on sanity.”
Header photo by MabelAmber, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Ed Zahniser by Angie Faulkner.