Cormorants

 
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 ZahniserEd 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 AM poems, 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.

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