Caroline McNeil


You fit so perfectly, geese. The lake
loves your grayness. The rain-pocked

wavelets mime your ruffed and stippled coats.
The sky becomes you. You float content,

three low mounds on a plane of moving
curves and shimmering arabesques,

endlessly exchanging shades of grey.
You alone are still, being made

for this. My eyes keep turning back,
dwelling on your denser bulk.

Occasionally you dip your beaks to drink
then all in one motion arch and fling

your black necks high, their loosening arcs
dark, sinuous, flying.


Uncanny the way these granite boulders
strewn at the edge of the lake resemble clouds.
Bumpy tactile likenesses of clouds,
dark condensates of clouds, mottled, irregular.
And like them tumbled today upon a dull silk plane,
both sky and sky-like lake being overcast,
both smooth white strata.

Uncanny. We might imagine even that
vapor and granite had in some primordial age
been merged. And that a friendly god had
pulled down handfuls of the cosmic stuff for
men to have and made it dense.
Something solid for us to comprehend.
Something to hold our gaze, to comfort us
with heft.

ADVICE FOR A WARM EVENING                        

Rest on the Adirondack chair's slant back.
Regard the stars.
Name the brightestCastor and Pollux
near the moon, Deneb overhead.

But do not wish on them.
Stars are too far from us for wishing,
six million, million miles times four
the nearest one. What's more, they are
wearing themselves away in fire storms,
and some even now are ghosts,
their final nuclei of hydrogen combined,
cores furiously expired.

Instead, half close your eyes and wait.
The fireflies appear in sheltered places first,
among leaves, under eaves.
Small earthy signalers,
night cyclers of odd proteins
luciferin, luciferyland light,
cool flashing glims, there by the
steps, the sill, the sweetgum,
random creators these,
skimming the lawn, near the wall,
the liriodendron tree.
Wish now.

Caroline McNeil writes about science and medicine, with an emphasis on cancer research, for professional audiences. Her work appears currently in several medical news publications and professional journals. She lives in Reston, Va.



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