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Two Poems

LXXXIII (Chanterelles)

Black trumpets, whale-colored pamphlets, or shingles, or ears, book-
marks of the netherworld, breakast food of the box turtle.

For a long time, she could not find them, hovering just above them
the way an inanimate lamp will hang blindly above the lucidities
of geometry.

And then she saw them risen in clusters on the mossy rocks, firm and
articulate, as when first translated from the original rain.

Bat wing, toad mask, vole shield: they turned darkly in the alchemy of
the skillet—in the mouth, they transmit a tenuous signal,

a hint of perfume, but musical—songs with morals, light things broad-
cast before the planetary news on the underground station.


How quickly they came to their full bodies and never that protean instant of metamorphosis, only one day both were inexplicably large with the downy, white, otherworldly mien of the working children of the Depression Thomas Wolfe described as cottonheads.

But one fluffing up and flexing, leaping and beating its wings, while the other hung back, shadowed and tentative. Perhaps because it had hatched later. Or was that its nature, to watch? The sneak, the thief, who watches and conceals as he had waited in the shadow of his sister.

A few weeks, as May turned to June, he studied them through expensive binoculars, then noted in a cheap black notebook events that stood out: mornings, a parent carrying a snake, thunderstorms, hot nights—and what might have transpired in the back of the nest. Killing lessons, lockings of beaks.

Each day a further emergence, until the one he called Jupiter was boldly venturing along high limbs, and the other, the peeker, who remained unnamed, stepping forth in increments, pausing to check the position of its feet and wings as if monitoring gauges for oil pressure or altitude.

Later, when they had first flown and he had missed it, he grieved, though of course, hawks are not people; flight is what feathers are for; eyases fly—badly at first: aiming to soar, they often dip, then flap, flap desperately to clear the eaves. Yardbirds, they grub two weeks. Luck noted, They apprentice, before becoming hawks, as chickens.

Rodney Jones

Village Prodigies
Mariner Books

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