Standing at the edge is the great Multitude.
They inch forward in their rags and hunger.
Their movement along the ground lifts
the sound of ancestral migrations.
They are carrying the dark water of need
in their eyes; they are carrying the first
vowels, the first consonants,
But their mouths are silent, and watchful.
And the great scavenging wings hang over them;
the raven eyes hunting among the muteness
of the winding cortege.
Beside them are the pools filled with the specters
of famine, civil war, drought—
They become one body, a muscle of need.
A testament of want.
And night—which is always upon them—rides them
like the wild horses of the storm-filled plains.
They will inherit the earth only when the final
pilgrimage is done.
For in this life, the crystal lake and the great sword
of understanding, raised high, will not show
Far off, in the West, a light burns brightly. But
it is not for them.
Varieties of Flight
There, in the air--traceless blue--arena of circuits And saunters, some rise with difficulty 'While others lift buoyant, tack of tail turned Westward--take wide air under their keel, And sprint, shoot and sail up to where, in invisible Gyres they revolve tropical or northern, Spreading their full breadth to survey the scene, Their prey hidden in land folded and patched; Others, tail-sure tuck and dive, fall in a single tear, Against a stony silhouette of hill; others In wind jibe and yaw, storm-wise, head into Air as prows take the jab and flack of waves-- But some are threaded by thin parachute, line of silk, They soar only when bidden, cross a width Of draft, but hang when the wind is becalmed And suspended; still others come from deeper Hues--leap into air as if seeking a higher realm, Where hidden stars crown a miraculous Dome of blue--fly on their fins, and their short Leap is the curve of Noah's colored arc: Still for others, flight is trammeled--rooted, as fires lift Only in sparks, but are held fast to their Flames; and sound flies blindly over distance, But cannot renew the force of its thrust; Sight sweeps and tempers rise; tall grasses bend and Rumors mount; winds wind over, as insects Hover, and stars speed free under frail failing Night, while fleet tongues tell their tales-- And Knowledge--poor earth-bound ember--sails, But fails to ignite.