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Great blue heron in winter, light snow

Two Poems by Brendan Galvin

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Courtship

Now the mockingbird sits in the bittersweet,
clear-eyed as a monk, waiting for
the möbius strip of its repertoire,
snapped by the cold, to mend,

and the grounded heron
looks like a negative of a marsh-side
cedar over there, feathers
puffed for insulation. Dr. Zhivago weather,

and nightly now, under the snow moon,
the owls are singing of love and death,
the big ticket items that leave us
tongue-tied.

                            Singing the way
they were meant to, in miles of
moonwhite on snow, in leaf scutter
magnified by silence, in the fallen
shadows of trees slain by this moon.

Death or love, his basso profundo
across the frozen river leaves no room
for smalltalk. Then hers, from a farther grove,
I know who you are, too.

Across a serious bay, four states,
and a saltwater sound, may you and I
do as well through these redundant
winter nights. May the sweet talk
of the four of us never falter.

 

 

 

Best March Breakfast

Because an icicle thick as
a pro tackle’s forearm
has hung out there
for fifty winters, and a nuthatch
yesterday clutched it, sipping
the dripmelt, and after sunset
a shadow tiptoed across the deck,
coyote, to sit like something
out of Aesop beneath
the suet cage, and wish,
I am not hoping for the day
when butterflies turn
into money, or even the minute
when a brown clench
on the other side of this glass
unfists a spider turned in
on a grudge larger than
any headsman’s axe.
But especially because this
morning the ground’s
in motion, a flock of bobwhites
foraging, their backs like
pine duff. In only forty
cubic feet, three illustrations
in twenty-four hours of life
wanting to be life.

 

 

 

Brendan GalvinBrendan Galvin is the author of 18 collections of poems. Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 (LSU Press) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Egg Island Almanac appeared from Southern Illinois University Press, a Crab Orchard Series Prizewinner, in fall 2017. His newest book is Partway to Geophany (LSU Press, 2020). He lives in Truro, Mass.

Read four poems by Brendan Galvin appearing in Terrain.org.

Header photo by glowie, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Brendan Galvin by Ellen Galvin.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.