by Susan Elbe
Evening, russet as an old penny, drops into our open hands.
A loon cry arcs across wet air,
full of copper and fog.
Here I am, here. Another calls. Here, I am here.
Back and forth they yodel,
flipping the bright coins of their want into the fading light.
Out of the long grass, the moon, enormous, paper-white
rises and breaks tether, weightless as a summer kite.
But we want more. We want miracles,
to hang on the sleeve of heaven and witness miracles.
Deep-sea divers film a cormorant 300 feet down,
a depth where water weighs enough to crush human lungs
and Russians, drilling the Antarctic ice cap,
find Lake Vostock two miles under glacial seal,
its warm and pristine water full of million-year-old microbes.
Even these are not enough. We want myth to manifest itself
beyond our own lives, to revision our beginnings—fish
who flung themselves onto the land and walked,
the wolf who howls inside the skins we wear like gloves,
the hard idiom of stars, eternity’s declension.
We want the hollow bones of birds who fly in water
to be the flutes we've forgotten how to play,
flutes to sing us through the deep and salty dark.
First appeared in Ascent (Vol. 26, Number 3, Spring 2002)