Migration by Bill Pendergraft

I am not a silent poet

along the marsh
the body of the little clerk
below the reed, magnolia arms
that stretched into the sea

I held him in my hand, a migrant warbler
eyes laid shut, a lolling tongue
no outward sign of harm, no broken wing or feather gone
his feet curled like two fists

I have seen him once before
a young man back from war
who sat silently in class
his head own on his desk

he had crossed the gulf each season too
returning to his father’s dock and nets
he did his work and like the tide
he was there, and then he left

we never understood his loss
or ours, no sign of harm
no broken wing or feather gone
yet worn by long flights home
when no one took his life
he took his own

..

From Bill Pendergraft’s forthcoming book, The Lowcountry

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