Gatherers

High in the northern hills light falls
too as though sieved through arms of pine.
In villages there, they tell of mist

nets strung on poles that bird-
hunters raise. Crouched on rock faces
in the early hours, they wait with lanterns

for flocks of migratory birds: gray
hooded sunbirds, blue-capped wood
kingfishers, mountain shrikes with

that pale blush of apricot as though
a painter had delivered one quick stroke
of color upon each breast. I forget

what each haul of bodies was for—
I forget if they took them mostly still
alive to sell in markets, or if the lot

of them were cleaned and roasted. So much
work for so little value— though it’s not
for us who partake of a thing to say.

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