Here Went the Egret
I dug a pond, bought some fish, and here comes the egret
to snag the fish. There is me, I thought, the pond, the egret
and the fish, and tiptoed out to watch her hunt—
you cannot buy an egret—but sensing me she turns,
gives herself a flap, then two, and rising, her legs,
which are barely a concept for legs, first dangle
then tuck up into the tank, the flapping becoming
a stroke, stroking of morning, erotics of air, as up
and over she glides, and is and then is gone—
patch of white between the trees. Her majestic is
becoming—to me—her even more majestic was.
Thwarted and plunked forever down me, who dug
the pond, bought the fish, thought there was me,
the egret, the fish, but no, there is only the egret.
January sun on bare branches. Cold harsh light
softened by the same sun shining on what's left of a web
outside the window
shimmering like tinsel hung in the air.
And then the perfect crow flies by.
Not a scene to torture with questions.
Say goodbye to Mr. Crow.
The sun will set at the edge of the sky.
So long, Mr. Sun. And words, these tokens
of joy the world offered once, are beginning to disappear
into the things they've named, becoming
the tears in things, the "web"
across the window, the "window," the "sash,"
that impossibly delicate light in the "air."
The Passing Hum
January 1st, and a woman walking down the street is humming, Summertime.
The whiff of longing in her wish, and in the silence around her wish,
a silence as she walked she made. And as she walked and made,
we pass, and I, the head-down busy man, have suddenly no place to go,
desiring nothing but desire and to listen with a listening bone
I didn't know I had. One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing
(the famous words embedded in the passing hum)
You'll spread your wings, I answer-hummed, and you'll take to the sky.
That's all. We are (or were) therefore we hum.
And pass. And make a silence of our own. Empty, cold,
fertile, clear, January one, fish jumpin', cotton high.
Murray Silverstein is the author of Any Old Wolf, poems, (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2006), and his poetry has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Connecticut Review, ZYZZYVA, and other literary journals. He is the co-author of four books about architecture, including the classic, A Pattern Language (Oxford University Press, 1977) and Patterns of Home (The Taunton Press, 2001). A partner in the firm of JSW/D Architects, Berkeley, he lives in Oakland, California.