The 2River View AuthorsPoemsPDFPast Issues2River



Pamela Steed Hill



From the back porch I watch dozens of sparrows
line the high fence, descend by twos and threes,
strings of six or more to the ground
surrounding the feeder.
And in only an instant they lift off in a single group
as though sucked into the heavens by an intake of breath,
divine, urgent. Dropping to the fence again,
they start over, a cycle as obvious as geometry.
But if there is such sequence in our own lives,
if a circle draws itself around our coming
and our leaving, I’ve not yet found it.
Dad, you’ve been dead five months.
The sear of August has crusted into winter’s
deep glass. I hold it in my palm, to my face,
its cold circumference a raw edge rounding into spring,
into summer. August will come again. I will watch the birds
feed and return, feed and return,
and I will look for you in the arc, and the fall,
of their flight.


The Miracle of Nothing

It is not enough to offer a silent thank you,
looking down at dark mums and the garden’s final offerings
of autumn—late-planted greens, their small leaves
fragile and pale. And bright orange peppers,
the odd liveliness of their color signaling an end.
It’s not enough to stand at water’s edge
on White Fish Bay and know the lake is a miracle.
To see the dense clouds drop into its depths and know
who placed them there. It is not enough to welcome God
into every small fold of the day’s passing.
To call upon some unknown force
to let the meat be fresh, the house not burn,
the evening to find us all here again. Yet,
we are here again. And we have witnessed
the miracle of nothing. A slight turning of empty time,
bare of grief and illness and pain. We have lived
nondescript this season, this day, these sixty-minutes.
But it is not enough. To bow our heads in silence.
To close our eyes and see in each moment
of each second the uneventful wonder
of none.


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