Winter ending as the hills flood
down to the river flood with another river,
the mud flowed rock and bones.
The fierce sky a rider with her tiercel
commanding the ridge
as the wind carried years of blood and sinew
to end in isolation.
The horses run this land within,
I drank from my hands
the copper water bitter with iodine.
The sun sets in relief
like the crush of black talons into my wrist,
our sewn eyes open to smoke
convinced of a malignancy.
I gathered the dark in the book of my arms
knowing the storm and her familiars.
Sea tide rising with the night,
the red moon a net with her veil
inciting a natural desire.
Cleansed by the water spun
darker than sky,
I shivered with your naked hurt.
The rhythm of hips and waves
leaves the impression
of widgeon grass on the sand.
Hymn of the Marshland
Forest of cypress and pine
edging the marsh grass
alive with sun fire.
Harriers cross the expanse
like a scythe
in the wind from the sea.
The hidden river pulses
with all being in a delirium
like the scent of the glands
on the back of a deer.
I listen in witness
to a quiet trembling earth.
John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Red Paint Hill published his collection, Ring the Sycamore Sky.