The swamp angel’s song

It was late in the day when shards of light shot low through the dim forest, lighting rock and moss and the bulky tangle of ancient roots beneath my feet. Only my own muffled footfalls and the occasional snap of a twig beneath broke the stillness. It was the peaceful hush my mind had been longing for. Maybe it was the time of day. Or the slant of light. Or the wistfulness of late summer. But it seemed to me that it was a holy ripening stillness—leaning toward something to fill it. The very air was preparing for something.

Then it came: a high, lingering note of a flute followed by a trill. I learned later that this was the rarely heard song of the hesitant hermit thrush. Too ethereal to grasp and too penetrating to forget, it floated in my memory for nearly 20 years.

When the inevitable, isn't
March 24, 2014

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