Vanished. Removed from sight. A bird’s direction re-directed, unwound, re-winged at the touch of a slight wind, a slighter light deciding shadows all the while. I saw it, not much of it, flash and cross over the lip of the hill. A flick of feathers was all, but it is enough to get me walking, or to keep me walking in one direction, something small but rough that’s touched me once inside and moved my feet. All around the hillside is all spring: wild mustard, clusters of henbit, rabbits, my footprints, and the sounds I make are the sounds I hear, the ringing of pulse in the ear, the swish of grass, my footsteps. I keep expecting the bird to turn and rise up over the hill, a thing that birds do well, a sublimation, a perfect surge of pride come on them all at once, a thing I’ve seen so many times before, in so many other birds. But this one isn’t rising, the flick of its feathers still only in my mind. My brother once described for me a fox he’d seen in the mirror of his car. Just the tail, but he said it was like a match to the woods behind him, flared up in the afternoon light, the pale November left-over leaves relit, redefined by the animal. I’m hoping here on the hill to get at least another glance of the bird so I could likewise see the world stilled in its small seconds, a half-turn of half-light, a sky half-defined by what I see, and half-redefined by how the bird would see it. And what we’d see together then would be forever lodged in my eye, something I could return to. I must not have been looking right the first time; all the light and the sky has stayed the same; the hillside is a book I cannot read. I do not even know what kind of bird has crossed the lip of the hill. I want a second-sight, another sight, a memory to clip to the yellow foxtail grass and the scent of honeysuckle beside the trail. A wind is ranging in now over the low hill. A bird wind, I think as I walk. It’s coming harder, the weedgrass is bent, covering the hill path. The path leads up, and I bend my head to find and follow it. The mean sun unwinds across the sky in the wind as I climb to see again what I’ve already seen.

NATHANIEL PERRY’s poems and translations have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, West Branch, Cincinnati Review, Salamander and elsewhere. The editor of lyric and The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, he is Assistant Professor of English at Hampden-Sydney College in rural southside Virginia.