Whip-Poor-Will

As the last light
of June withdraws
the whip-poor-will sings
his clear brief notes
by the darkening house, then
rises abruptly from sandy
ground, a brown bird
in the near-night, soaring
over shed and woodshed
to far dark fields. When
he returns at dawn,
in my sleep I hear
his three syllables make
a man’s name, who slept
fifty years in this bed
and ploughed these fields:
Wes-ley-Wells…Wes-
ley-Wells…

It is good
to wake early in high
summer with work to do,
and look out the window
at a ghost bird lifting away
to drowse all morning
in his grassy hut.

-Donald Hall