Egret

Egret
Tomtit
Of the
Skies
Flies
The broad way
Cries –
And I watch him, listen awed
At his heronwaul, bawd
Crying at the moonrise.

And the longlegged bird
Crosses the fallow
Where the calves now low
At the cow’s tail of the herd
And the sinewy wings scan
The heavens they span.

All day long the egret
Kept company with cows
While on slim-stemmed legs he flit
Hooves and grass stems to carouse
On the flies who came and clung
To the fresh cow dung.

But now the herdsboy calls
His cows from the pasture
And the egret-harrier
Turns too, for night falls.
Turns, and leaves his day companions:
His world is not the world of men.

Fly, egret, home to your palm-nest,
Home to your crooning mate, lest
Night’s hawk fingers grip you, take you,
Lest her hunter eye unmake you,
Fly! What would a bird of purest white
Harrow, hope for, in the night?

And the egret, whose neck rivals the grace
Of a swan’s neck, turns, flees,
Crying and calling over the trees
In terror, in terror, of the moon’s white face.

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