Now is the time
Of waxwings, of battened men
With hands of slate
And burnished eyes,
Men of the fields scything
Fists of fireweed down
At the slough’s eastern edge
Time to come up
Out of the ground

The birdhouses emptied
But for cold boards
Peeling paint and soiled
Strips of linen cribbed
From our mothers’ sewing
Rustling nests in the wind
Passing by as the men walk

Poking holes in the dark
Ground with an apple switch
A thumb’s width or better.
A thousand times they’ve trod
These steps. At field’s end
They pause to watch their shadows
Shrink and grow, lying on the slough,

When years ago, one dug up
An errant stone, what was
An ancient ammunition left by,
Wrapped in calico and pressed
Into the dirt like an urn
Or the bejeweled eye of some djinn.
Feel the steel pin in the teeth
The tang like oil spreading
Across the tongue.
One subtle tug.

Such little resistance
Between this world
And the next.


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