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The Precincts of Moonlight

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Her first child belongs to the crows
and his days go circling the yellow-black fields

summers and into the falls. He scans   
the horizon, mouth in a sticky O,

like a spirit caged to infinite space.
Winged One, she calls, Winged One, come here. Receding,

he pulls off his straw hat and waves, showing his tuft   
of obsidian hair. He’s not coming back just yet.

She remembers how crows are small black rivers   
like stairways leading to rooms

that can’t be rooms, only the hallways of space.   
And then, how she watched him last night

in the ruined farmhouse across the road   
where only a chimney and staircase are left

jutting up to the vacant precincts of moonlight.   
He was stepping so lightly then,

who at sixteen forgets his own name, and shits himself   
like the mindless, fear-mad prey of barn owls.

He belonged to the crows and stood
for hours on the stairway’s precipice, weaving

a dance like crows in flight, until his brother,   
with rope and fists, carried him struggling down.

David Wojahn, “The Precincts of Moonlight” from Icehouse Lights. Copyright © 1982 by Yale University. Reprinted with the permission of Yale University Press.
Source: Icehouse Lights (Yale University Press, 1982)
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The Precincts of Moonlight

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