Swallow-tailed kite

One Poem by Robert Cording

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Swallowtail Kites

Another day of doing nothing, of nothing
to be done with this roiling sadness,

this restlessness that will not rest
after last night’s rounds of sleep and waking

and my strange, involuntary calling out to you,
my lost one, in a voice almost unrecognizable. 

And now I’m walking my over-eager dog
at the sunset hour, Florida cooling down,

the reprieve of a good-natured day slowing
to its end in calming pinks and yellows.

I’ve been watching a pair of swallowtail kites
glide by in elegant, effortless flight,

circle higher up, then downglide by again,
as if they’ve taken an interest in me.

But it’s insects they’re after, that generate
their improvisations with the wind,

their forked tails tilting left then right
as they snap an insect out of air

and eat on the wing. That’s fine by me—
I’m lost in their wheeling and sloping maneuvers,

so intent on the next time they’ll zip close-by,
I miss my dog squatting, then pulling at its leash,

wanting to move on to the next grassy smells,
to do what dogs do, and not this standing still,

looking at the sky and this pair of kites
as if they could steady me just as they steady

themselves in the wind with their tuning-fork tails.
But now my dog tugs hard,

and I’m off again, into what the night will bring.




Robert CordingRobert Cording taught English and creative writing at College of the Holy Cross for 38 years and worked as a poetry mentor in the Seattle Pacific University MFA program. He has published nine collections of poems, the latest of which is Without My Askingand a volume of essays on poetry and religion, Finding the World’s Fullness.

Read two poems by Robert Cording previously appearing in Terrain.org.

Header photo of swallow-tailed kite by David A. Rintoul.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.