Winter plumage confuses identification.
Loons, with their cry that bows the soul’s strings,
transform from the most elegant feathering:
black head, neck and dagger-beak, white throat band,
checkered black and white markings on the back.
They met and mated on inland lakes, nested and nurtured
in one season that takes us a score of years, then
transformed in parting to the coasts.
They turn gray, beak to tail,
all shadowed in shallows along the coasts,
like rock stars who don Trappist Robes, vow celibacy,
still singing the hours in beauty but
hooded in meditative colorlessness.
I gray too after decades of wild exploration to find one mate,
settling onto land and raising our brood, in our own nest we built.
But my time is linear, my living headed towards shadows.
Loons live my life annually, shed the gray feathers,
polish the beak that blackens brilliantly,
ready for breeding again in the Spring.
They return home, flying above the curvature of earth,
start over with mates,
breed, build, nest and nourish.
I have no more eggs to roll down tubes, ready to meet the wiggling
other half of our humanity. But I keep my mate as I’m kept.
We travel through time linearly, growing more alike as we age.
Loons live a spiral existence, variations
on a percussive rhythm that generates seasonally.

Gray to brilliance, to gray to brilliance, gray.


Rosemary Moeller has had poems published in Plainsong, Dust&Fire, Colere, Rockhurst Review, Summit Review, Prairie Winds, Four Quarters to a Section and many others. She farms with her husband on the Great Plains and travels along with bird migrations.