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A Walk to Carter’s Lake

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Look, above the creek, hummingbirds in the trumpet vine.
Not too close, wait. See the green blurs
stitching the leaves?

Here at the edge of the millennium
I don’t imagine
you’d call them anything as archaic as angels.

But aren’t they agents of a sort, and secret,
dissolving and solidifying,
spying from their constantly shifting perches of air,
always nervous
of us, risking only a stab
in a bell of petals?

Don’t look so stunned, lay your pack
in the needles and catch a breath. I know,
you thought you knew me,
and now to hear me talk this way ...

I’m glad I’ve stopped pretending
to love people
and the cities where people can’t love themselves.
This is what the quiet accomplishes,
and the water trusting
the shadows to eventually peel back to the trees.

Small wonder the angels are said to despise us.
Still, without them
how do we account for our meanness?

Look at that, what else can promenade
in the air? And how easily
they’re alarmed,
revving off into the mist.

David Bottoms, “A Walk to Carter’s Lake” from Vagrant Grace. Copyright � 1999 by David Bottoms. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Vagrant Grace: Poems (1999)
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A Walk to Carter’s Lake

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