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This poem is taken from PN Review 146, Volume 28 Number 6, July - August 2002.

Four Poems James Sutherland-Smith

Storks Returning

for Viera

All at once a long, silent procession of ideas,
Five hundred or more above the hills
Against an indefinitely coloured sky
Suave as porcelain, the birds black against the light.

The flock is a sprawling cuneiform
An archaic sentence that will not parse
Or a tuning fork with one tang broken off.
Strike it against the sky and you'd hear the creak of wings.

Languidly this writing loses shape, the birds
Hesitating over where they might have been last year.
Symbols begin to drop away from text,
Prehistory returning with its patient appetites.

I'd like two vases made, both with a glaze
Of grey suggesting cloud suggesting rain;

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