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An Excerpt From The Walk or The Principle of Rapid Peering (also known as A Trek of Air, A Living Poem)
The feet trudge the path of the eyes.

Vouch for snow-covered trails skirted by galvanic tamaracks,
the previous fall’s needles a carpet of #2 pins.

Vouch for garrulous waxwings captivating powerlines,
mesmerizing middle C and rising,
coloratura clouds.

Vouch for the rich acoustic world of moths
fallen silent, streets of pupal stillness,
bodies suspended in glycerol sleep.


Vouch for a city of composite eyes.
How many million ommatidia?
Through the trees blows an extraocular wind.
Eyes with wings.
Wings with eyespots.
The holding pattern prevaricates.


So re-emerges the air-swindler,
the sometime airflow-ambivalent.

A coalition of plant fibre
and hollow bone,
a hybrid zone
in a deep-lobed
lethally beautiful register
of Old World stavesacre.

Vouch for 173 species of grass,
herbaceous with the poly-
saccharide clitter of exoskeleton,
each with a corresponding suborder
songbird pitch.

Chitin, cellulose, keratin,
a stridulation
of probing beaks and proboscises,
wings with bones and wings
longitudinally veined,
phalanx-like spikelets,
airborne seeds.


Navigate a fogbank of seeds—
a wind tide of Achilles
tendon-deep elm seeds,
double-winged samaras,
hermaphroditic basswood,
a wade of plumy achenes.

Navigate another season
of reasonable doubt.
Weather is disorder,
syndromes of pollination and diffusion,
fruitless overwintering,
a gravity of confusion.

a running together,
where several paths meet,
where nature converges with words.


Wind is tympanic,
percussive air,
a wing-scale libretto,

or a premonition
of a clack and chatter chack call,
a red-winged blackbird’s
two-part alarm whistle.


Wind is a metamorphosis
of infinite cycles of breath.

Shelf clouds lined
with an evolution of air,

book lungs and book gills,
a library of respiration

(the passive, the active,
by spiracle by stoma by lung),

the inner floristic,
Holarctic rind.

Sylvia Legris's latest poetry collection is Garden Physic (New Directions).