(© Words by Paul F. Cowlan)
The old man by the river calls out,
points with his stick.
And slugging dust from my boots
to pad the shooting smart of blisters from the seams.
My pack sags;
taut paw on each shoulder,
a slack, black devil
digging its knotty toes into my back.
Cool fronds and sussurous water.
He gestures at a willow.
"Blackbird!" I say,
a smile dawning.
Pert, unassailable little saint of the tuneable halo.
And I peer into the leafage,
while the old man nods
and brings the stick back to his side.
Jet and topaz.
Dead Latin gives us both a word
for this swart, sonsy angelet;
and we pause,
‘Old Age’ and ‘Not Quite Youth,’
by a bridge in a meadow,
somewhere on the long camino,
where sallows and the late sun hang their pennons
on a nest of jubilant, black Seraphim.