Stiff with death, last summer’s corn
Rattles as a breeze invites it to dance.
As aimless as fog, I wander through the field
To a marsh at its edge. My heart is empty.

The marsh is cold and lonely, the color of fall.
The breeze drifts through broken cattails.
A flock of starlings has settled into the rushes,
Each bird speaking its own complaint.

All is silence except for the rattling corn,
The shaking cattails, the complaining birds.
Afternoon falls, silently and deliberately,
Carefully into evening. My heart shivers.

Shattering the silence, a distant dog barks.
My heart stops like music reaching a cadence.

Shards of birds explode out of the marsh.
They gather into a flock that comes alive.
It turns on itself, each bird knowing
What to do and when to do it.

Obeying unspeakable commands from no one,
The flock whirls and weaves, twirls,
Makes undulant patterns in the sky,
Birds moving together, many and one.

I stand on the edge of the marsh watching:
This living flock, these birds,
This air, these unspoken patterns.
The dog barks again. The flock returns.

The gateless gate opens.


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