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 Jones is a former Idaho Writer-in-Residence and NEA Fellow. His book Someone Going Home Latewon 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.