Coming to Mr. Kirk

by Richard Taylor

Before the crowd arrives I’ll find shelter
among the thick trees and stand
very still.

The noise of them, the noise
bends the tall grass, though there is
no wind.

It’s more than the advance of mice
in a meadow, unseen and many, or crows
opposing the morning’s high opinion
of its clouds.

It’s the rowdy tongues inside that drum
of unattended loves, chorus the day’s alarms,
the prospect of sorrow, then chase their syllables
to dust in a chill sky that makes tears of them
for the rattle of rain.

The noise of them, the noise
offends a man standing in the simple shelter
of himself. I slip away to quiet
by a solitary man who fishes
the old way.

At the meadow’s brook I know it’s Mister Kirk
by the breadth of the britches high in the hitch of his galluses
and much above his boots.

Nor would I disturb the hat nesting in his gray hair
like a comfortable bird, for he stands very still, doesn’t know
how the fishing is, and it won’t likely improve, he says,
with a brass band close by.

There is but one of me, but the grass stirs, and he
with the wind’s ear has heard it and enough, for he wears
a fill of years the crowd no longer counts, voices
the riffles have drowned out.

The water’s tug is in his eye, and he cares to finish
with his fishing in a pool a ways downstream, smooth
and full of sky, where fish are leaping from their shadows
into the afternoon sun.