A dead oak’s branches hold a nest
(Abandoned now) that ospreys built.
He wades the river; slow clouds spread
At each step from the bottom’s silt.
Or, his shirt bunched beneath his head,
He drowses, as the breeze falls slack,
And feels the grass he lies on pressed
In complex patterns on his back.

Though summer seems to pause with its
Hypnotic sluggishness and drouth,
Downstream a railway bridge extends
Across the estuary’s mouth;
And, while the sliding water blends
Mercurial, flashing, glob-like fires,
Above the bridge a lineman sits
High in his seat-sling, working wires.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 2, on page 46
Copyright © 2018 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
newcriterion.com/issues/1987/10/youth