And yet you’ll see them everywhere—
on telephone wire or fence rail,
diving the swale between dunes
riding the sun-baked meadows
uphill through aerials drifting on wind.
Swealwe, suala, swalue, swallow— they swoop loose of syllables, the ancient
names that called them down.
Iridescent blue and black, masters of the long
glide and liquid reverse. How slowly they go
from hayfield and sea-cliff, so slightly diminished
we hardly notice a few less arrivals.
For still they build in barn rafters
knock the nest, they’ll build again.
If ever once you’ve seen them, shuttling by hundreds
over sea swells, they shake the water from
their wings, they skim
the bright forever—
the drop off, the fly by, the see-able truths.
How the mind hoards beauty and resists the new
news about neonicotinoids in farmer’s fields:
the insecticide casing of seeds
killing off the bees,
diminishing a swallow’s ability to breed.
Who will hear what can’t be heard—
gap in the whirr of singing—another silenced spring?
Catherine Staples is the author of The Rattling Window and Never a Note Forfeit. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, and others; she has new work forthcoming at The Southern Review and The Yale Review. She teaches in the Honors and English programs at Villanova University. You can find her at www.catherinestaples.com.