November 2014

Bright White Shine Across Water

          by Susan Edwards Richmond


Bobbles like buoys, my senses cry

bufflehead first,

as I walk to the point

the ragged shapes of bare limbs embrace,

my vision a peephole through woven screen.


Binoculars raised I see the unmistakable

dark bordered accordion crests

radiate from yellow eyes—

breasts from the side, inked

lines beside chestnut stripe:


drake mergansers and a hen,

then another rising on her webs,

shaking out buff headdress, wings. 

Four turn into eight, a magic

trick of doubling, until a ninth


tips the gender scale, female.

Alabaster and obsidian, tawny

and dun, chug and swerve, submerge.

A zephyr smacks the surface, wiper blade

swipes clean across glass.


Deep down in the damp reeds,

a quiet peep begins, then climbs

twig by tendril by needle of pine   

into the open waning light, song

sparrow emptied of its summer song.


Everything is still and straining

to be touched by late

late November sun, as the ducks

twirl and turn on their reflections

whether to stay or go.


Up the hill, another loose flock

spills from a truck, motor blowers in hand,

rounding up the year’s debris,

as if it had to be cleared—

as if it could—for the winter to come.