Until we were what we must have wanted to be: 
                 shapes the shapelessness was taking back. 
                        —Jorie Graham, "What the End Is For"


All afternoon, in silence, we have been following 
        another hidden edge of earth, an ancient 

break in terrain where tremors once rumbled 
        underground; but this morning the quiet 

we had sought was broken only by songs 
        of sparrows or the rare call of a cardinal. 


Earlier, opposite one another, a dark pair 
        of harrier hawks hovered above us; 

then they banked and whirled in an increasing 
        swirl of air, exchanging place with every 

turn, each concentric and quickening ring 
        merely a replica of the circle drawn before. 


In the valley, long arms of a willow wrestled 
        with this lifting wind and an overhanging 

branch still heavy with leaves moved in a perpetual 
        stir of stream water; soon, we saw a whole 

slope of quaking aspen, their heart-shaped leaves 
        going gold under the slant of autumn sun. 


Although we know this fault line is nothing more 
        than a simple split in the geologic plate, 

it seems endless as it tracks across that great sprawl 
        of nature before us÷one length of landscape 

pulled apart and reassembled, raised and wrinkled 
        like the gathered pleat on a large garment. 


Here, where thunder once rose with those hazel 
        hills now entering this changing sky 

before us, gray and weighted by rain, we listen 
        to the shrill, distant whistling of a freight train; 

we await the approaching storm, still wishing 
        we could hear that softer caroling of sparrows.

[ First appeared in Quarterly West


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