Do you hear them when they call cuck-oo

to you—

from the arms of the spruce that bends

in prayer, from the back of the sidewalk yew?

They sit up on the roof-ridge where the old

flags fly 

and they lie there, too, in the dew,

with their beady little eyes as black

as spies’,

and they call to you as you pass them by; yes

they call to you cuck-oo.


But in the darkness their bodies make never a sound

once they 

get swallowed down by the swallowing-ground,

and not for all the crosses

dragged to the hill,

nor all the candles that flicker

in the forest still, will they sing cuck-oo to you

anymore,

though their mouths are no less round 

than before—through their lips there comes no sound. 


He had asked you about the swans that day, staring

blankly over the pond,

and you didn’t know what to say.

For the old white bird was gone

from the world and the sky was a sagging grey.

Now along the cold comes

with its unfeeling gums, but still 

you wander your way.

It was cold that day in just the same way

but you never feel cold very long.


And when the black taxi cab slides through

the yellowing snow

and you stand on the hilltop with nowhere to go

and no one to see and nothing to say

then you stay.

And you yearn for the long lost call of a crow. 

But there are only one set of tracks 

in the snow,

and the cab turns its circle and it ebbs on its way,

for the driver has nothing to say, oh 

no. No, he hasn’t come for you 

today.


Now you stumble to bed 

with a feeling of dread, and you can’t see His face

in your mind.

And the lame man leans and dead man screams,

and the poor man lies in his bag,

in his bag on the side of the road.

And still you trudge through the withering snow,

past the spruce and the yew through

the dark and cold,

for the cold and the dark are in you. 

And you won’t hear the birds that are singing cuck-oo

even though they are singing 

for you.