Such jazzy arrhythmia, the white storks' Plosive and gorgeous leave-takings suggest Oracular utterance where the blurred Danube disperses its silts. Then the red- Billed, red-legged creatures begin to spiral, To float among thermals like the souls, wrote Pythagoras, praising the expansive Grandeur of black-tipped wings, of dead poets. Most Eastern cultures would not allow them To be struck, not with slung stone or arrow Or, later, lead bullet— birds who have learned, While living, to keep their songs to themselves, Who return to nests used for centuries, Nests built on rooftops, haystacks, telegraph Poles, on wooden wagon wheels placed on cold Chimneys by peasants who hoped to draw down Upon plague-struck villages such winged luck. If the body in its failure remains A nest, if the soul chooses to return… Yet not one stork has been born in Britain Since 1416, the last nest renounced When Julian of Norwich, anchoress, Having exhausted all revelations, Took earthly dispensation, that final Stork assuring, even while vanishing, "Sin is behovely, but all shall be well."
Copyright © 2011 by Michael Waters. Reprinted from Gospel Night with the permission of BOA Editions.