14 April 2007

Paul Muldoon

[from Paul Muldoon's Moy Sand and Gravel, 2002]

The Otter

That was the year S—— told him how on the Queen's desk
there lay a great six-by-four-foot blotter
of such a blackness, she would aver,
a blackness so dense
and a grain so close, so compact,
no one could hope to hold
a mirror up to it
and thereby . . . and thereby hit
on any evidence of clandestine contracts or covenants, or old
enemies having entered a secret pact
to which she might be a party or affix her hand, any evidence
of the treachery he now saw written all over her,
rising as she did to meet him like the otter
that had risen once to meet him from Lough Eske.


The day our son is due is the very day
the redknots are meant to touch down
on their long haul
from Chile to the Arctic Circle,
where they'll nest on the tundra
within a few feet
of where they were hatched.
Forty or fifth thousand of them
are meant to drop in along Delaware Bay.

They time their arrival on these shores
to coincide with the horseshoe crabs
laying their eggs in the sand.
Smallish birds to begin with,
the redknots have now lost half their weight.
Eating the eggs of the horseshoe crabs
is what gives them the strength to go on,
forty or fifty thousand of them getting up all at once
as if for a rock concert encore.

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