A castaway blown south from the artic tundra
sits on a stump in an abandoned farmer’s field.
Beyond the dunes cattails toss and bend as snappy
as the surf, rushing and crashing down the jetty.
His head a swivel of round glances,
his eyes a deeper yellow than the winter sun,
he wonders if the spot two hundred feet away
is a mouse on the crawl from mud hole
to deer-grass patch.
An hour of wind and sleet whips the air,
nothing darts or passes but the river underground.
A North Pole creature shows us how to last.
The wind ruffles his feathers from crown to claw
while he gazes into zeroes the salt-slick rain.
As a double-rainbow before us arcs
sky and owl, we leave him surrendering
to the echo of his white refrain.
* * * * *
Poet, author and playwright Duane Niatum has authored over a dozen works, including Drawings of the Song Animals: New and Selected Poems (1996), Pieces (1981) and The crooked beak of love (2000.
He was awarded the 1982 American Book Award. a Native American of Klallam descent, he was editor of the Native American Authors Program, published by Harpers and Row.