We are blue moon shadows,
moving in a soft, improvised dance —
a bit clumsy, at times, but sincere,
and grateful for this special time
in a place that is not ours.
A meadowlark’s alarm
has been the only sign
of any indignation from our hosts.
Dances of mice and insects,
in rustling leaves and grasses,
are not lost on us —
proof of the respect we hope to show
through whatever hush we can manage.
We stand in breathless silence, now,
looking off across this valley
at a knowing, stream-mirrored moon.
We are dwarfed as much by moment
as by sycamore, birch, and elm.
Silence echoes back at us,
as an answer to the barred owl call
our guide offered many silences ago.
At last, we ease our breaths into the night,
with relaxed postures,
but also with some disappointment —
not certain what we have missed.
With thoughts of moving on,
a natural rhythm comes to claim our breaths.
A trio is cued.
From the glow of distant sycamore,
that points into the moon —
that presides over the bend of the stream,
a lazy, ending fragment
comes back to us at last — “you all-l-l.”
Upstream, a second voice is heard;
it sings all of the query, then,
it starts a second call —
is joined by yet another voice,
that sings it as a round.
Now, the first agrees to lend
the fullness of its call,
as a stirring from the others
becomes a pair of shadows
moving silence past our awe,
into a stirring of our hearts.
That pair report our presence.
No further calls are answered;
no further silent flight invokes
magic silent breeze.
We move our sighs and whispers up a hill,
away from the trio and their neighbors,
as all return to fluent speech
in languages of night, we cannot hear.
A retired Data Processing professional, Rick McElhany has recently had poems published in online journals, including the Fall 2020 issue of Flora Fiction. He is eager to see where 2021 takes us, while always struggling to embrace today.