Robert Hass


Walking, I recite the hard
explosive names of birds:
egret, killdeer, bittern, tern.
Dull in the wind and early morning light
the striped shadows of the cattails
twitch like nerves.




Because yesterday morning from the steamy window

we saw a pair of red foxes across the creek

eating the last windfall apples in the rain—

they looked up at us with their green eyes

long enough to symbolize the wakefulness of living things

and then went back to eating—


and because this morning

when she went into the gazebo with her black pen and yellow pad

to coax an inquisitive soul

from what she thinks of as the reluctance of matter,

I drove into town to drink tea in the café

and write notes in a journal—mist rose from the bay

like the luminous and indefinite aspect of intention,

and a small flock of tundra swans

for the second winter in a row was feeding on new grass

in the soaked fields; they symbolize mystery, I suppose,

they are also called whistling swans, are very white,

and their eyes are black—


and because the tea steamed in front of me,

and the notebook, turned to a new page,

was blank except for the faint idea of order,

I wrote: happiness! It is December, very cold,

we woke early this morning,

and lay in bed kissing,

our eyes squinched up like bats.