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

 

Ever-further

Ever-higher

 

In the pillared gloom.

 

The vertical scales

Of the flutes

Of the wood thrush

 

On their ethereal

Ascension

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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