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Brendan Galvin


The March Observances

We come down the path
a few evenings after equinox
to a thin strip of pines
between the road and river,
a place where words have been
known to blessedly fail us,
and lean on a tree
at roadside, well we know why.

Often enough, in the quiet of the sun’s
bloodline detailing hogsback hills
west of us, among lean-tos
the deadfall makes, a woodcock
may begin his overture,
as though a fly fisherman were
stripping line from his reel nearby.

It is all for the female whose eye
is a glitter lost on us among husks of bark
and leafmould in there, and now
her dumpy suitor who has flown
his lovesickness up the continent
leaps into a gyre, climbing
so the air seems all atwitter
about his newfound
shape and destiny, a hundred feet,
two hundred up the twilight, more—

and we ask this year as last
if we saw it, or if those sounds
we can’t approximate
created the illusion that we saw it,
the synesthesia for a dance
at once ludic, absurd, and holy—
as he drops in a ragged chattering
zigzag back among those trees.


Brendan Galvin's Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 (LSU Press) was a National Book Award finalist.

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