The Manchester Review
David Wheatley
Three Poems
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Bittern Étude

I know you are there
       the eyes of the hide
unclip open
                              you are walking
       out of sight
                 in microtones
and diminished octaves

                 the wind is singing
       and the tune is beyond me

the path from your nest
       to the water forms
                 a twelve-tone sequence
only you follow
       the splayed feet going
chromatically there
       there and there

       your splash
untuning the far thud
       of rush hour to natural static
                 this is not music
       this is what
will have been music
after              wait
       and it does not come

one call away
                 who do not call
       not yet
       subtlest most hidden
       long neck scything
                 what escapes you
by reedbed isthmus or lake

stationed over
                 the Brigid’s cross
of your nest of reeds showing
       a clutch of deep olive
where have I not       looked for you
       for the moment
       your camouflaged eye
                 breaks cover

       listened for you
spirit of the haunted milk bottle
       sunk in the centre
                 of your slow-
expanding rippling
       if only
                 but unheard

       and I clip shut the eyes
of the hide
                 stand in the dark
       and is this not blindness?
                        this is not
blindness I am
                 the last image
       on the retina
                        of a closed eye
in darkness
                 there is nothing
to hear and this
       is music