“who will weave a nest for all the birds of passage?”
                        Dilruba Amedq, “Bring Now the Angels”
Vultures, blackly elegant, glide across the lake,
making their way home along alleys of cloud.
We swivel below, craning to see their loose ranks pass over.
So many!
Where have they come from
in the far trees, the dark beyond the water?
where are they headed?
And do they leave us soon?
Is that why they have gathered in their great flock
finding each other for comfort in a long journey?
We see the birds above us, starting
south or deep, or simply fading,
the air holding their imprint for a while.
A day or so ago we watched a skein of white
a V that unraveled and re-formed
against the pale, blue-white of sky,
the rubbed stain of cloud.
We stilled to watch them as they passed.
Leaving, so many are leaving,
the warmth and movement of their mutual bodies
holding them aloft, giving them strength:
pines drying on mountain slopes, long
ranks turning red and then gray,
teeming water turned turbid and still
and schools of silver fled out in currents
that lead them who knows where.
It is said the skies of the continent
filled and darkened with the passage of birds,
the ground shook with running hooves.
Where are they going, our great ones,
our innocents?
A bird hops over the flagstones outside my screen door,
his tail perked high.
Will you go too, little one?
And can you ever return? 

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