Three Poems by Nathaniel Perry

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Country Gospel

Crow alone
on the only dead
river birch
in a young stand.

The sun, of course,
undoes the blackness
of the bird’s
packed feathers

when it leaves
the tree. Its wings
re-cross the air
around the body

they lift to the sky,
and every color
we know boils
out of their backs.

Our day is half-over,
the light stranger.
Everyone will be
happy over there,

they say, where
the crows will still
be black. At least,
I hope there are

crows. Does heaven
have harbingers?
Is there a place in light
for what it lacks?



Country Gospel

Light snow today,
the lightest you can
imagine. Just a skiff
of color-shift

on the froze-up ground.
Around our heads
when we stood up
from work that had

us bending down
was flurry static
and in our heads
dynamic blood

rushing as it does
to where it goes.
At times it seemed
I’d lost a compass

I almost always
have at hand—
the one that tells
me where to look

to find the center
my eyes require,
one that parses
out the grey music

of basic winter,
what divides the mind
from the sky and gives
us a place to stand.



Country Gospel

Frost was right
about the sound
of trees. Also,
they are the ocean

for interior places
like these (without roads
too near,  I should add,
which partly was

his point—all that
hawing about leaving
or staying still).
What they will do

is mostly clear.
One thing they seem
to do is steer
the meadow further on

into the west,
but I know illusion
when I see it.
No one is driving

this thing for real.
We wail in wind
and wonder who
or what will hear

the shiver-shift
of our branches, I mean
our hands, stretched out
above the field.




Nathaniel Perry is the author of Nine Acres (APR/Copper Canyon, 2011). He is the editor of the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review and lives with his family in rural southside Virginia. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.