I was taking the broom for a slow shuffle
around the dining room when I heard
the fluting of wild swans & rushed out,
scanning the sky till I spotted the long wedge
high above the hollow, heading north.
They were as dark against the sky
as we must be to them against the ground,
pausing in our Sunday labors, mouths open
as the swans pass over the train tracks
& the river, over the interstate & the quarry’s
enormous silent megaphone,
over a cardinal singing in a barberry hedge,
over junker cars & houses sheathed
in fading asphalt shingles,
over old carpets left out in the yard
to kill the grass where a vegetable garden will go,
over the burrows of amorous woodchucks
and the leaf nests of squirrels,
over sheets & long johns flapping on the line.
The swans seemed tireless. Their one refrain
might as well have been “Over the Hills
& Far Away,” as in the Burl Ives song
about the piper’s son. They’d keep it up
long past the last tree, I knew — until
the land cleared of almost all clutter,
there where the darkness disappears for months.
I went back to my sweeping,
assembled the dust from every corner,
then opened the door & ushered
that small blue hill into the wind.
I also shot a mediocre video of a flock of tundra swans this morning. You can watch it here.