19 December 2008


Swallows streaking in and out through the row of broken
panes over the front door went on with their conversation
of afterthoughts whatever they had been settling
about early summer and nests and the late daylight
and the vacant dwellings of swallows in the beams
let their dust filter down as I brought in my bed
while the door stood open onto the stone sill smoothed to water
by the fret of inhabitants never known to me
and when I turned to look back I did not recognise a thing
the sound of flying whirred past me a voice called far away
the swallows grew still and bats came out as light as breath
around the stranger by himself in the echoes
what did I have to do with anything I could remember
all I did not know went on beginning around me
I had thought it would come later but it had been waiting
W S Merwin

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