the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Matthew J. Spireng


There is a flutter in my ear
that visits and goes—a small
bird, maybe, coming to roost.

I've tried flushing it with water,
but still it returns, tiny wings
flapping as it settles. Three

summers ago kestrel fledglings
fell from the hole in the nest box
where they'd baked for days in an

unrelenting spell of tortuous heat.
They landed safely below, hid in the
vines and broad-leafed weeds, giving

us hope for survival. False hope,
it was. The fledglings died, the kestrels
abandoned the nest, and the weather

turned cooler with rain. Is this,
now, a fledgling returned?
Do I welcome this flutter I hear?


Running to Carvin's Cove in April
(for Kelly)

At first I thought the noise ahead
was someone mowing their lawn
early, but as we neared the last house
it grew clear the noise came from beyond it,
uphill where there were only bare trees
swelling to leaves, redbud and black cherry
blossoming, and I thought it someone chainsawing,
but then realized the noise, so like
the maddening rasp of a huge brood of cicadas
loosed after seventeen years, was from high-voltage wires
high overhead crossing the narrow valley
below the dam, their lack of motion
deceptive, suggesting silence and rest
where the most excited of molecules raucously hummed.



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