Augury? Samothraki, Greece for Jakob Ziguras
I’m not sure if I’m following a trail left by goats or on the human path as I attempt to circumvent the farmstead where, the last time I came near, a dog pursued me, snapping and snarling. Noticing the piles of rusting junk dispersed around the place I wonder whether there’s a law requiring that at least one crackpot live in each secluded region on the planet; as if these thoughts had given them their cue two dogs begin to howl. This circumstance— embracing pungent wafts of goat shit—stirs somehow recurrent doubts about the art of poetry, its prospects in our time and apprehensions personal in nature...
Traversing the hip of the mountain, still unsure if I’m on the path but no longer caring I bend under the low branch of a sycamore enter a clearing of green and rusty ferns when a call like a foghorn sounds directly above Arp, uup Lifting my head I see two black birds with wings outstretched arcing more smoothly than figure skaters away from then towards each other Their fingers almost touch as they pass and arc out again I follow the fluent sequences in the impromptu choreography the transformation of lemniscates they draw on bright blue paper leaving an even lighter trace than the fine inscription of blades in ice At regular intervals, arp, arp the same bird gently repeats as if to say, take notice, this is important though I doubt the utterance is aimed at me...
While wishing I could have observed them longer and had taken fewer notes they return, now from the west No, this pair is fairer and converses in meow-like squeals though they arc as smoothly as the black birds Joined by a third they easily wind their way high over the valley whistling in alternation And I wonder, after all, if it’s not possible to speak winged words to converse, if only with a few that far above the valley
After following another goat trail I scramble over rocks to glimpse a waterfall and losing the way back descend the hillside with the path in sight and I’m not making this up or sure what it means but the first pair of birds return from behind the mountain dart over my head and down into the valley They’re talking to each other now and take turns to flip upside down, flash their breasts to the sky and far swifter than stunt planes flip over again... Luke Fischer 'Augury?' won the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize and was first published in Overland.The poem also appears on pp.74-77 in the author's collection Paths of Flight (Black Pepper,2013). Paths of Flight can be purchased directly through the Black Pepper website (postage is free): http://blackpepperpublishing.com/fischerpof.html