Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

William Hathaway: The Quiet of the Sky

No, we didn’t expect to be startled
by feelings of half-forgotten joy
as we strolled the trail along the bay
just after dawn broke, just hoped
to listen to the quiet of the sky,
maybe calm our iambic heartbeats
to pulse in synch with the hum
of the cosmos. For a moment or two,
at least. Because streaks of pink
were still suffusing across a placid skin
of generously expansive bay
and beyond it a steely glow
washing white into a gray sky
was haloing an iconic blue hill,
that in turn cast its solemn image
half way across serene waters,
a mirroring that once suggested
that other perfect side of things
to old poets high on Plato
whose florid poems the people
we call “the people” still consider
to be the only real poetry,
though they only read it in school,
we recognized this scenery
to be an example of the sublime.
 
Quietly, though. The sort of view
people look at and say awesome
while taking pictures of their faces
with their phones with nature scenes
behind them like the river and hills
decorating the grimy background
of the Mona Lisa. We were, after all,
past being puzzled by a heaviness
we feel mingled with admiration
when confronted by beauty,
well aware that massed sparkles
of shimmering scintillations
blazing in the rose-hued channel
would momently sweep across the bay,
replacing exotic sfumati shades
with unambiguous daylight
and revealing the is of what really is,
turning the hallowed hum a quietness
had given us into a distant growl
of traffic grinding to jobs of work.
 
And as we turned to hike deeper
into muffling woods, a troop of blue jays
descended like screeching harpies
all about us, darting and veering
in erratic flutters from limb to limb,
jeering discordant grievances
like city klaxons blaring all at once,
yet not in unison, as if each one
was heebie-jeebied by the others
yet none dared fly off alone
into the umbral forest. But no, we knew
seem is not is, others are not us.
Though one that lingered did seem
to be shrieking imprecations
on us for being where water, sky,
rocks, earth and trees are beings
until we arrived to think of them
as things. Dawn broken and forgotten,
we rested on a bench dedicated
to the memory of a beloved pet
and listened to blue jays’ distant cries,
fluting as one sweet clarion voice.


William Hathaway’s many books include Dawn Chorus: New and Selected Poems 1972-2017 (Somondoco Press, 2018). He lives with his wife Ellen in Maine where they take long walks, read good books and feed the birds. 

Copyright 2021 William Hathaway

Appalachian Trail, Maine

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2021 by in Environmentalism, Poetry, spirituality and tagged , , , .

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