Work by Peter Filkins


the seagull


in a cage

    of wind



           its scry

of need


the docks

the wooden boats





       toward an end

to flight

        and gravity


the wind


amid the toss
of light raking
the rust of oak
pearl gray
cloud cover
bellying rain

the willow lingers

pliant with weeping
that is not there
and yet is what
we know it by
among hemlock
among ash

beside the lake

water lapping
the rocky shore
the heron unfolding
its pageant slate
above the surface
rippling bruise


falling and falling
cannot be
a curse of becoming
the blight of day

aqueous free
to trample hay
cut for winter
or left to rot

fields ferns
fog-bound weather
perpetual as air
or an Ararat


that on this day
of winter dark
rain impelling
the ribbed coppery
flash of oak leaves

the year should end
compelling the mind
toward the gravity
of pines tremulous
with wind hail blast

and a moment marked
as the sun draws farthest
away from the earth
and seems to pause
before returning


out of the air
the air embodied
falling as flurries
down laden streets

soft declamations
of silence unhurried
earthward their journey
emptied of wind

lake ice contracting
its vice of cold
murmured music
on which we skate


forced in February
six-petaled stars
crown these airy
tall columnar

stems inclining
their heavy heads –
weary pining
for a death reflected

not in the tremor
of papery husks
but star-lit verdure
at winter’s dusk


suffice it to say
the full moon’s
hard light exposing
the ambush of sea
invading the harbor

cannot know
the concerted blast
crippling an elm
to a stack of limbs

it to say
and say it praising
the burnished horizon
its collar of rust
hovering above

the sea’s reckless glitter
these meager stars
piercing the scrim
of moonlight proffering
its silver its peace

Peter_Filkins-Wp-Barnard._MACD-08,_010,#404Peter Filkins is the author of five collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Water / Music, will be published by Johns Hopkins UP in April 2021. His previous volume, The View We’re Granted, received the Sheila Margaret Motton Best Book Award from the New England Poetry Club, and his poems, essays, translations, and reviews have appeared in The Paris Review, The Yale Review, The Sewanee Review, Poetry, The American ScholarThe N.Y. Times Book Review, and numerous other publications. He teaches writing and literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and courses in translation at Bard College.