Peregrine flight

Friday, March 4, 2022

Gic to Har

It is late at night, cold and damp

The air is filled with tobacco smoke.

My brain is worried and tired.

I pick up the encyclopedia,

The volume GIC to HAR,

It seems I have read everything in it,

So many other nights like this.

I sit staring empty-headed at the article Grosbeak,

Listening to the long rattle and pound

Of freight cars and switch engines in the distance.

Suddenly I remember

Coming home from swimming

In Ten Mile Creek,

Over the long moraine in the early summer evening,

My hair wet, smelling of waterweeds and mud.

I remember a sycamore in front of a ruined farmhouse,

And instantly and clearly the revelation

Of a song of incredible purity and joy,

My first rose-breasted grosbeak,

Facing the low sun, his body

Suffused with light.

I was motionless and cold in the hot evening

Until he flew away, and I went on knowing

In my twelfth year one of the great things

Of my life had happened.

Thirty factories empty their refuse in the creek.

On the parched lawns are starlings, alien and aggressive.

And I am on the other side of the continent

Ten years in an unfriendly city.

Kenneth Rexroth  (1905-1982)