Ellery Akers: What I Know

Vox Populi

How to hold a kinglet in my hand so I don’t break its wings and it doesn’t bite my thumb, how it lies in my palm, stunned, until it starts up and bolts into the air I know the mustards—the Cruciferae— some of the snapdragons, some of the vetch— On the Farallones, I know the cliffs: the calls: the shrieking in the air I know the murmur from a thousand murre throats as a peregrine flies over the colony, and one by one, they take off, frightened, then dozens, hundreds, and sprinkle into the sea I know the sound of a humpback slapping the water with his fin, his breath stinking of krill, the sound of his spout like a steam engine hissing I’ve seen the way spray lifts over Arch Rock and runnels down and soaks all the sleeping sea lions so their pelts turn dark I’ve seen fish…

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