Will Burns – Hunting

photo credit: Bill Lane


Will Burns

Recall the names he had
for that umbral speck seen
each morning on the canal.
Close to the mess left behind
when they blew the railway
bridge to rough stepping stones.

See the dark shape slip easily under,
it’s just clear enough to watch
two legs propel a tiny bird’s body
through the water and catch
yourself following up the towpath
until you reach the tennis club.

Call it a little grebe or dabchick,
pull the word out of its time –
logged there like the typhoon
with the same given name as that one
too-beautiful woman, a name
he remembered for the spelling.

And think of those green lizards
haring into holes to escape him and
you feeling like the air was moving
around your perfectly still head,
on the perch at the top of the hill
before you squeezed off your shot.

I could find that grassland,
the rough blades still grazed back,
but the butterflies would all be gone.
The summer was just too cold
and the sky is empty now save
for the contrails of the training jets.