Denise Levertov


(after Jules Supervielle)

A poplar tree under the stars,
what can it do.
And the bird in the poplar tree
dreaming, his head
tucked into
far-and-near exile under his wing—
what can either of them
in their confused alliance of
leaves and feathers
do to avert destiny?

Silence and the
ring of forgetting
protect them until the moment when
the sun rises
and memory with it.
Then the bird
breaks with his beak the thread
of dream within him,
and the tree unrolls
the shadow that will guard it
throughout the day.