The hope a mooncalf follows
is sacrifice for slaughter,
and yet the wings of swallows
still skip across the water. 

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It was once thought that swallows
wintered on the moon,
or morphed into field mice
beneath the autumn swoon
of clouds, or slept beneath
wavelets on the floor
of shadowy ponds and lakes
until the sudden lure
of springtime roused them from
the kingdom of the dead.
Early Christians believed
they swirled around the head
of Jesus, giving comfort
as he bore his heavy cross,
or they were harbingers
of heaven after loss.
Today I look above
the eaves as autumn blooms
in the deep well of the sky,
my house’s empty rooms
echoing only wind,
the memory of their song.
They have flown south for winter,
which here is dark and long.
first appeared in The Flea, 2010
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© by Leo Yankevich