Mennonite Poetry Home | Leonard Neufeldt



The Return

All this goose-strutting
like revanchist warriors, shofar necks
coaxing head bobs into mutters almost done
with bickering. But their sprawl of wills
want it back, the sodden field
that Tundra swans claimed just days ago,
the Canada geese circling like a gridlock,
a few swans getting through

The sky a bloat of clouds,
the boardwalk a splatter of rain
yet few drops attach themselves
to you as though you’re not even here
in the Fraser Valley, to which you’ve returned,
unsure of why. Perhaps to see
for yourself — the avalanche on
the Vedder Mountain Road a litter
of brokenness like the old god of argument,
the spleen of whatever mattered
then, and here by the boardwalk
it's the fullness of cedars, the empty details
of cottonwoods, the swans' white on the grass
still green, the light rinsed clean and wetland
ripples keeping time with the wind

and with small-winged shadows bursting
down through the sunlit edge from
the clouds' dark rooms, wing-slap
in the chill beyond the weariness of wonder,
following each other in ragged ellipses
that make the air intimate,
the cinnamon teal's kind of rhythm wary
of the earth’s pull and the sky above and behind

Who can say how the need to return or leave
first began, a need that belongs to itself
and you, and this time
you won’t pretend to know, the teal gone
as suddenly as they came, the long hunt
adjusting somewhere to another flash
of water and field, the world's curve
keeping desire alive

The rain much more real than it was,
the stutter of swans lifting away
and huddles of geese watching them settle
to feed farther back as though staying
and watching is how they return,
and you shifting your feet from the mossy edge
where the boardwalk begins to circle back

©Leonard Neufeldt. Cirque. Vol. 7 (2016). 




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