ONE POEM – Richard Brostoff

Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

Flying Against Time

Late light descending over Vineyard Sound,
the Cape house strangely still. Above the sea
a dusk sky with its copper fuses lit.
Inside, my Mother lingered with her labored
breathing––tumor seeded through her lung. 

Above the house a low sun like a wrecking ball;
the world at the horizon splintered like a Rothko,
blood orange looming over the darkening earth.
Daydreaming those last days, all I could think of is
these mysterious birds, flying spellbound in rows,

hurling their bodies toward an unblinking sun,
black-rimmed around their eyes like the painted
eyes of a pyramid. What purpose do they serve?
Sentry? Escort for the dying? Protesting angels
or a swarm of messengers, delivering a plea?

Two dozen birds come pulsing into the red glare,
luminous on the horizon–full-bodied as black
swans, svelte necks craning forward as if willed
from strange rite, or as if flight were a last refuge;
as if they might stanch the light’s blood tones

bleeding out of the sky. Against the shift
and sprawl of distances, dark wings beating
the wind, messenger birds resolute in their
calling, driving their bodies into a river of light,
determined and futile, flying against time.



Richard Brostoff’s work has appeared or is forthcoming Rattle, Cincinnati Review, North American Review, The Louisville Review, Poetry East, Madison Review, Apple Valley Review, Alabama Literary Review, Texas Review, Atlanta Review, descant, Folio Literary Journal, Gulf Stream, The Anthology of New England Writers, Carbon Culture Review, Confrontation, South Dakota Review, River Oak Review, The Distillery,The Moth, Owen Wister Review, Contact Quarterly, Hawaii Pacific Review, Apricity Magazine, Cumberland River Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Ep;phany, Mantis, Wisconsin Review, Eclipse, Red Wheelbarrow, Southeast Review, Magma, Verse Daily, and many other journals. He won the grand prize at the AEI International Poetry Festival, the editor’s choice for the Robert Penn Warren Award, and was a finalist for the Iowa Review Poetry Contest. His chapbook Momentum was published by La Vita Poetica (2007). A second chapbook, A Few Forms of Love, was published by Finishing Line Press (2012).

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