An Intermission


After the last snows and the first
April chive-bursts, two came in
off the flyway, not flying
but coasting, humped to catch the air,
their wings on the long glide
without a single beat. White as if
a breeze were buffing fresh snowbanks,
their wing-sound was like wind
over snow--two tundra swans
by their black bills, not the decorative
imports children toss old bread at
on public water, but long as a man
and spanned wide as an eagle. Cygnus
columbianus, named for the river
Lewis and Clark found them on,
they had come all the way from
Currituck Sound or the Chesapeake,
aimed for the high Arctic
nesting grounds. Like gods out of
their element, they floated past me
above the pond and on down
the riverine marshes, pagan, twinned,
impersonal in their cold sublimity,
blind to my witness, their necks
outsnaking, intent on a brief rest
somewhere on our little river.


Brendan Galvin, Ocean Effects, Louisiana State University Press, 2007.