Then all the nations of birds lifted together the huge net of the shadows of this earth in multitudinous dialects, twittering tongues, stitching and crossing it. They lifted up the shadows of long pines down trackless slopes, the shadows of glass-faced towers down evening streets, the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill— the net rising soundless as night, the birds’ cries soundless, until there was no longer dusk, or season, decline, or weather, only this passage of phantasmal light that not the narrowest shadow dared to sever.
And men could not see, looking up, what the wild geese drew, what the ospreys trailed behind them in silvery ropes that flashed in the icy sunlight; they could not hear battalions of starlings waging peaceful cries, bearing the net higher, covering this world like the vines of an orchard, or a mother drawing the trembling gauze over the trembling eyes of a child fluttering to sleep; it was the light that you will see at evening on the side of a hill in yellow October, and no one hearing knew what change had brought into the raven’s cawing, the killdeer’s screech, the ember-circling chough such an immense, soundless, and high concern for the fields and cities where the birds belong, except it was their seasonal passing, Love, made seasonless, or, from the high privilege of their birth, something brighter than pity for the wingless ones below them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses, and higher they lifted the net with soundless voices above all change, betrayals of falling suns, and this season lasted one moment, like the pause between dusk and darkness, between fury and peace, but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.
every stinking son of a bitch can come home to his lawn mower and rice paddy, every punished son of a bitch can return to his father’s bedside, every child of every bastard every child of a hero of peace of war can talk it over with the man he blames, every woman, mother, wife, daughter will rise in our arms like the tide, every bomb be water, every bullet be smashed into frying pans, every knife sharpened again to cut fruit in thin slices, every word flung out like a bullet in anger come back to putrefy the tongue, every man who has sat silent beware of his silence, every rising of the blood make love to a woman, a man, every killer have only mirrors to shoot at, every child a thumb to suck, every house its chance to sink to the earth’s calling, every dead shall have no good reasons.
Into the land of youth, westward, to the place of starting again, cities of gold, on the coast of promise–mysterious cure–a mirror’s thrown down, and so without luck, without reflection we stop.
We have come to the beginning, the finish of the country, itinerary worn out, facing the surf–what sailors smell as land. We ask detailed questions. None of us can tell, so we tug on each other, “Come. Look.”
In this lull, one at the tide line stoops to pick at foam and weeds; another builds a fire. The intended didn’t arrive and there is no new plan. As the sun lowers, we face the mountains, consider what we have passed, and fall to dreaming, to scrounging.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”