Whippoorwill

The night Silas Broughton died
neighbors at his bedside heard
a dirge rising from high limbs
in the nearby woods, and thought
come dawn the whippoorwill's song
would end, one life given wing
requiem enough—were wrong,
for still it called as dusk filled
Lost Cove again and Bill Cole
answered, caught in his field, mouth
open as though to reply,
so men gathered, brought with them
flintlocks and lanterns, then walked
into those woods, searching for
death's composer, and returned
at first light, their faces lined
with sudden furrows as though
ten years had drained from their lives
in a mere night, and not one
would say what was seen or heard,
or why each wore a feather
pressed to the pulse of his wrist.

by Ron Rash

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