Fifth of Five
Two Page Openings from
The Way We Live
by Burt Kimmelman  

Early April Morning

           dazed spring approaches
                      — William Carlos Williams

A few birds twirling their notes in
the new light and my neighbor, hunched
over his garden, the hood of
his sweatshirt keeping his thoughts
to himself, looks past me as I bend
to take hold of the newspaper
tossed on my walk before dawn when
wet, dense darkness was all there was —

but then I hear his "good morning,"
he and I standing upright for
a moment before his turn back
to work, the bamboo prongs of his
rake softly scraping the soil
the night's rain has softened, to make
ready for planting flowers, the
early hour otherwise still.


Arctic Terns

           White clouds like kerchiefs at parting
           Are waved by the wandering wind,
           And the heart of the wind
           Aches at the silence of love.

                  — Pablo Neruda

Arctic terns touch down from the sky
every few years, leaving their life
of flight to raise their young and then,
in the waning light, lift off the
firm earth of Greenland to make their

way south — roving high above the
ocean, not too close to land but
looping east to trace the coast of
Africa or west along the
shores of South America, then

finally crossing the open
sea to the farthest reach of ice —
for a second season of days.
In large flocks they eye the water
for food, and once a male has fed

his future mate her fill of fish —
in a rite beyond gravity —
they join for their entire lives.
Yet flying must be an act of
solitude, an unfed longing.

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