The Chimney Swifts of Madison
by Robin Chapman

August and September evenings they gather,
after fledglings have grown and gone, after
eating their daily weight in insects, before
they fly to South America for winter months—
begin to circle the old school's chimney stack.
High up, twittering, they call in each other
from across our city, last mosquitoes and early moths
snatched up as they turn and turn over the stack,
the parking lot, our small selves perched on rocks
or standing there, tripods set up to catch the sunset,
the circle of smoke that they become as light
departs and they spiral down, the stragglers
joining in to drop, one by one by many one,
out of sight, into the dark lined with bodies
clinging to rough cement and we find our hearts,
caught in pandemic fear, lifted, enfolded,
brought home to rest in the kindred dark.

Originally appeared on James Crews' Facebook page.


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