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The White Boat
To close out the year
Light fading and the marsh
Wide now with the tide out,
Darkening, sky pale, bright
Patches of water near,
Bright streaks of it far off
Over the fl ats. Bird-cries
Cross the stillness: black shapes
On the water-shine,
Willet, Whimbrel, Godwit,
Feeding in a hurry,
Much back-and-forth movement,
Quarrel-cries. Curved bills, wings
Clear on the after-glow,
Curlews glide in. Chitter
Of a Kingfi sher: low
Whir over the water
Shoreward, to a dark tree.
Heron, dusk-blue in dusk
Where the sandy path bends
By the marsh-edge, listens
Dead still in mid-stride.
Air ripples the distance,
Small boats drift, fi shermen
Hunched on the water-blaze.
Sky over the spit's gone
Smoky red now; low lights
Along the north bay, more