It is required you do awake your faith,
Paulina says to Leontes, and these crows,
spurting from the night’s silence into the gray before
dawn’s rose, yell it in through my open window.
I am slow to cooperate. O Lord, I owe you
at least the modest diligence of looking carefully
each day; so let my narcoleptic steps deliver me outside,
the sky blueing this day at the tail end of summer.
Here is my morning report. High clouds.
An intermittent breeze, two boxy cedars bowing stiffly,
a frenzied swarm of gnats forming and re-forming
earthbound clouds in the shade of the barn.
A slight reddening in the apples. The grass stands
straight up, full of last night’s rain. Two nuthatches
spiral an ash trunk, probing. A squirrel rides the wave
of a branch until it stills. Towhees call out their names,
and the flare of a cardinal streaks into a nearby maple,
the red confection of its crown laughably exotic.
A hummingbird levitates, darts forward into the yellow
cave of a daylily, then returns to the light.
The sun has concentrated itself in a silver bowl of water
I’ve put out for the dog. Yes, another list, Lord. Call me
literal minded. But it’s my only way of seeing the next
and the next familiar thing that raises itself out of anonymity.
Forgive me this invented ritual. Now, I’m watching
a kestrel con the field from fifty feet above. Minutes ago,
I noted its warm russet back, the stunning slate blue head
marked with black slashes. Lord, I’m more birdwatcher
than acolyte, this raptor’s fierce attention waking me
to the rapture of looking, its tail and narrow wings
adjusting the sleek body in the invisible currents
until it comes to a hovering standstill, at rest on air.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.