James Schuyler


July  26th, 1965

The bay today breaks

in ripples of applause.

The wind whistles.

Spruce and bright-leaved birch

at the edge

are flat yet plump

as letters with “see enclosures.”

A gull mews, the mailboat toots,

the wind rises and pours with a noise like water

and spills black jazz

from spiked brown seed cups of red columbine.

The wind takes with it a wrack of voices: “the who?”

and unintelligible shapes of phrases

or one scrape: hickory on cement.

Across the bay today

a White House smaller than a thumbnail moon

shines like the light

it shows at night, a star

or sun of kerosene.

The barn swallows from the eaves

are up to something, maybe

showing their fledglings how to do it, scything

an insect harvest from the air.

Round and brown as rabbit droppings,

seed pods of blue-eyed grass

bobble and split along the seams:

so big for so small a flower.

A sailboat scuds,

a poplar tugs at roots

in soil, a scurf on rock.

Everything chuckles and creaks

sighs in satisfaction

reddens and ripens in tough gusts of coolness

and the sun smites.