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Wood Thrush and Veery


Dusk in late spring;


The sun is sent off

In song,


Then the small birds

Fall silent


And the woods

Is theirs alone,


Those wide-eyed minstrels

Of the early dark,


The wood thrush

And the veery.


You who came out for stars—


Listen: it’s a mystery cult’s

Secret festival

Of unearthly music!


And you are as welcome

As you can bear to be.


You admit one,


And the invited soul

Enters the woods


And the fearful heart

Must follow,


And you seek them

With a fear

Equal to desire


As they beckon





In the pillared gloom.


The vertical scales

Of the flutes

Of the wood thrush


On their ethereal


To nowhere;


And the gyre

Of the veery,


A sonic naught


Like the winding down

Of a tiny antique carousel.


Ah, those invisible birds


And their philharmonic

Of nothingness!


That duo rehearsing

On the very edge of death


For their performance

On the other side!


And they will only be found

When you are lost


When there is no more

Here or there


Or near or far,


And you are dissolving away

With the last of the light,


And the heart fears

What the soul remembers:


That the self is a shirt

Many sizes too small


And to peel it off

Is to become


The shadows


The trees


The first stars


The rising moon


And the music


The haunting beckoning


Unbearable music


Of the wood thrush

And the veery.



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