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Greg Nicholl
Evidence Burning

          how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
                    —Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Windhover"


Overhead a raven circles,
drawn from the forest by the low tide.

I know this is not your majestic falcon
caught in a rush of air,

just a dirty pond and a low flying crow.

You were twenty-four when you tossed
every poem into the fire—

evidence burning in a church hearth.

You claimed it was for God,
this slaughter of the innocents.

That night words leapt into smoke
and you gave yourself to faith.

But I need to write myself onto the page,
to press against another man's flesh

until our bodies are seared together,
to document our lives.

I follow the raven down the shore;
fragments of glass, driftwood and kelp,

all return to the sway of the sea.


(Originally published in Barrow Street, 2007)