Elegy

E. M. Schorb Click to read more...

E.M. Schorb is the prize-winning author of several collections of poetry.  His work has appeared in The American Scholar, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review and The Yale Review, among many others.

 

This compass-headed bird,
                                    dead-reckoning South in Fall,
arcing its bloody breast
                                   above the roof and cawing
some kind of bold farewell
                                   to higher air and leaderless
V’d fliers off on it,
                                   was shot (we saw and heard),
and staggered in the sky,
                                   dripping blood and guts
down on the lobstered roofers
                                   working in the sun.
It sang its downfall swan
                                   song silently, now, spread
its wings, and then, as silent
                                   as its eyes, it lay
resting on the roof,
                                   face up, and looked at clouds,
(and some sweet heaven we
                                   could almost see); but soon
pain shook it like an angry
                                   nurse, so one good roofer
struck head from body with
                                   a spade, merciful severance,
and catwalked off, bloody
                                   spade dragging on the tiles,
a man of dirty duty,
                                   unlike the murderer
of song, the wanton boy-
                                   in-man, who pellet-shot
the bird (the shot we heard);
                                   and this once musical,
most bright and beautiful,
                                   small dust was part of all.

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