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Day-long drizzle out of a slate sky
low as the dripping roof of a mine shaft.
The Brier's thoughts work shifts, bent and cramped
in a day become a tunnel.

His mood damp and heavy as his old coat,
his spirit low as the shriveled arm of the lake
turning through stump-littered mudflats,
he walks up from the rain-black barn.
The drizzle hangs beaded on his hat brim.

He stands at the edge of the porch, looking
west: last light caught in the curve
of sky--rain in a mussel shell.
And then a bird calls--a thrush? The sound

springs up like a single blade of grass,
then cuts toward him through black limbs
like a smooth, silver plow point snapping tree roots
and turning up dark dirt in a newground.

Past midnight he comes suddenly awake,
lies in the dark, alert. One blade of birdsong
has turned the hollow of his mind a deep green
lapping bay where thoughts swarm like shoaling redhorse,
their speckled green and silver backs arching
out of shallows under willows by the shore.

from Brier, His Book, 1988 ©

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