Two Poems

by Jeffrey Alfier Issue: Fall 2016 Special Issue on Forests

Solitary in Albemarle County

Late spring, and twilight’s early
nightbirds work the lower fields.

They spill in and out of smoky depths
of sycamores and pines, fen smells

of damp forest, hollows of rain
pooled beneath skeletal birch trees.

So much yields itself in silence:
shadows spilling from a bridge

over the Rapidan, a small fishing boat
shouldered back into shoreline.

An owl, trapped in the second story
of a crumbling barn, flutters room to room.

Toward the Rapidan River

Autumn begins along a disused road
with wind that flares into fields, deepening
tree lines of hemlock and alder hedged
with shadows and ribbons of mudded tracks.

The wind belongs to a solitary walker
or easy lope of hunters — if only for a mere flash,
sifts deadfall and a far-off diesel’s soundless
thread of smoke.

A skim of kestrels is sun-dazed over undulant
ground. Their flight is thoughtless grace
in the sport of distance: Frays Mill or Simmons Gap,
farms battened onto hillsides.

Yielding to silence, I think in the span of one
exhaled breath that time might stop. In the glide
of cloud-shadow, I pause by a brambled-over
woodpile, turn and listen for an echo.

Jeffrey Alfier

Jeffrey Alfier’s latest chapbooks are Southbound Express to Bay Head (Grayson Books, 2016) and The Red Stag at Carrbridge — Scotland Poems (Aldrich, 2016). Recent credits include Crab Orchard Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Hotel Amerika. He is founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review.