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Midwinter: Sauvie Island
Mark Thalman


In late afternoon, sunlight
slices between huge gray clouds
turning the valley and hills vibrant.
All colors grow equally intense
as if someone is adjusting a dial.

Each hue threatens to spill out
of the physical shape it possesses:
forest, fields, and houses
becoming a giant tide.

Across the uplands, vanes of geese
populate the air: so many
filling a piece of sky,
the eye can not count them.

Calling hungrily to each other,
they begin a large sweeping circle
for their gradual approach . . .

Flock after flock skim over tree tops,
then descend, glide in, and just before touching down
beat wings-- rowing the air-- finally to settle
into wheat stubble.

Clouds heal together. Light fades.
What seems so vivid drains away.
For the first time, the geese are silent.
Some feed. Others tuck their heads beneath bent wings--
the ancestral messages of distant landmarks
surfacing and sinking in their blood.

This poem first appeared in Pearl, and later was published in Deer Drink the Moon: Poems of Oregon (Ooligan Press, Portland State University).
Used here with the author’s permission.




Mark Thalman, editor of and author of Catching the Limit (Fairweather Books), has been widely published for four decades. He received his MFA from the University of Oregon, and is retired after teaching English in public schools for 32 years. Mark, also an artist who enjoys painting wildlife scenes with acrylics, lives in Forest Grove, OregonLearn more about him at

Post New Comment:
ANOTHER WONDERFUL MARK POEM. Your images are stunning.
Posted 02/26/2015 08:29 AM
The final two lines are killers. Love this poem!
Posted 02/26/2015 08:23 AM
Living as I do beside wAter - this comes to life . The word 'vane' is new to me. After breakfast I shall look it up.!
Posted 02/26/2015 01:06 AM
Beautiful, just beautiful! I can see it all.~~
Posted 02/26/2015 12:00 AM

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