for Scott Ely

I.

Like dipping oars the egret strikes its wings
on the black water out near Pimlico,
scanning for those widening, dimpled rings
where fish break water, talons skimming low
over the shoals. An itch for landscape brings
me back here to these wetlands in the slow
half light of afternoon. Loose threads of day
spin themselves out in what I have to say.

II.

To shape coherence from that far company—
harrier hawk circling above the swales,
white tail scrambling across the thorns and scree
of the slick limestone berm. My eyesight fails
to knit it whole. Unlike the owl in its tree
that sees even a least twitch in the cattails,
I patch together buck, scree, briar, and bird
as best I can in the...