Challenged, he'd say it was a mode of knowing
As boys in railway stations neutralize a passion
By gathering ciphers: number, date and place
Yet keeps no record of his rare encounters,
Darkly aware that like his opposite
Who no less deep in woods, as far out on the moors
Makes do with food or trophies, hunts for easy favours,
He trysts defeat by what he cannot know.
"Goldfinch" he says, and means a chirping flutter
From stalk to stalk in early autumn meadows,
Or "oystercatcher", meaning a high, thin cry
More ghost than bodied voice, articulation
Of the last rock's complaint against the sea.
And wooing with his mind the winter fieldfares
Has made a snare of his binoculars,
For lime and cage and gun has longed in secret,
To kill that he may count, ravish despair
And eat the tongue that will not speak to him,
Though to the wind it speaks, evasive as the wind.
He grows no lighter, they no heavier
As to his mode of loving he returns,
Fixed in the discipline of adoration;
Will keep no pigeons, nor be satisfied
With metropolitan starlings gabbling their parodies.
The boy's cold bride will yield, too soon and utterly,
Never these engines fueled with warm blood,
Graced with peculiar folly that will far outfly him
Till in one communal emptiness they meet.