Sally Evans

(1942 / London)

Silly Quesion to a Poet


Why didn't you use the word halcyon
instead of kingfisher?
Consider, will you
how kingly are kingfishers
and how very blue.
The beautiful word halcyon
shimmering in a dictionary
flutters its glory,
shelters in papery shade,
while the direct river narrowly
ripples with alternative meanings
and drains in blue clarity
of kingfisher days.
The hyacinth halcyon
whistles querulous
over swamped pasture
in fresh but trivial tone,
hollow as an osier,
pastel streaked with rust.
I say the kingfisher's a must
in my vocabulary,
streams in my mind
stocked with shining fishes
winding through Hardy's novels
read for the first time at sixteen
when lovers under oak trees
had a mystery they have lost.
The peace in the oxbow,
the solitary water,
the small bird's weather eye upon a bough
are more important now,
and to impress by whispering halcyon
is to try to gild the gold
hidden ready to gleam, already made
by artists mingling blue and brown and cream
adding and mixing in a dream
to make a flowerlike form with beady eye
upon a bush
that wings down to the ripple, a flash
for food, a rare, mysterious
and delicate magician in a wood.
1985

Submitted: Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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