Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, UP THE DARK VALLEY, by THOMAS MCGRATH

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UP THE DARK VALLEY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: After the lean road looping the narrow river
Last Line: The birds of darkness sang back every call
Subject(s): Flies; Insects; Locusts; Spiders; Bugs

After the lean road looping the narrow river,
At a break in the valley, turned northward up the coulee,
Past the slow shallows where minnows, a tin flash
Patterned the trellised shadow. Then, leaving behind the last trees,
The spider sun laid on the hot face a tight miraculous web.

Northward then. All afternoon beneath my feet the ground gave
Uneven going. The colorless silence, unraveled by the flies,
Stitched again by the locusts, was heard, was smelled --
Swamp-smell, dead coulee water.
And the easy hills,

Burnt brown, green, grass color, went on through the afternoon,
Then blue-gray in the blue shadow. The path went on.
Darkness hid in the draws. I was soon surrounded.
Only the wind sound now. All through the evening,
Homeward I walk, hearing no human sound.

The birds of darkness sang back every call.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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