sinking to brightness


David Baker
Then the breakers turning back to brightness, if the light’s
opaque ocean-blue sameness in the sky can be said to break,

the way the waves themselves, blue in back of blue
like a color in the eye, fall back to the wall — sea wrack,

driftwood, or the inner optic shelf behind the lens.
Then the gulls and simple cirrus strands turn back to light.

Then to inland sparrows, drifting under blue Ohio’s sky —
it’s a work day and the heat is the heat of the color

of your clothes, wash day, and hands hurt from the swinging of a scythe.
Then it’s day into night at the heart of the seeds

that fell from your hands breaking open, strewn in rows
like water along the ancient seabed floor of the farm.

Someone is standing at the door. Someone is waving from the car.
This day and that one sinking to brightness and the blue

evening wall before that, and a seed that fell from a star
becoming, as you will say, one day, all we will become.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash




David Baker


into flight, the name as velocity,
a swift is one of two or three hundred
swirling over the post office smokestack.
First they rise come dusk to the high sky,

flying from the ivy walls of the bank
a few at a time, up from graveyard oaks
and back yards, then more, tightening to orbit
in a block-wide whirl above the village.


Now they are a flock. Now we’re holding hands.
We’re talking in whispers to our kind, who
stroll in couples from the ice cream shop
or bike here in small groups to see the birds.

A voice in awe turns inward; as looking
down into a canyon, the self grows small.
The smaller swifts are larger for their singing,
the spatter and high cheep, the shrill of it.


And their quick bat-like alternating wings.
And the soft pewter sky sets off the black
checkmark bodies of the birds as they skitter
like water toward a drain. Now one veers,

dives, as if wing-shot or worse out of the sky
over the maw of the chimney. Flailing—
but then pulling out, as another dips
and the flock reverses its circling.


They seem like leaves spinning in a storm,
blown wild around us, and we are their witness.
Witness the way they finish. The first one
simply drops into the flue. Then four,

five, in as many seconds, pulling out of
the swirl, sweep down. So swiftly, we’re alone.
The sky is clear of everything but night.
We are standing, at a loss, within it.

feather of mist


David Baker
All afternoon the sprinkler ticks and sprays,
ticks and sprays in lazy rounds, trailing
a feather of mist. When I turn it off,
the cicadas keep up their own dry rain,
passing on high from limb to limb.
I don’t know what has shocked me more,
that you are gone, that I am still here,
that there is music after the end.

rapt for each other


The Anniversary
David Baker
All the years of nights
rapt for each other
all the joy and later
all the trouble
less trouble than job
and this one night’s sky
so full of stars each
flows farther away
as the low wing-wash
of a hunting owl
so close overhead
I didn’t hear
until it was beyond
all night walking
on the black road
I didn’t see pass
the great freighter
of a shared life
furrows in the cut field
pushed up from a
prow I didn’t know
had sailed by and
where has it gone …