Birdsong for Two Voices

A spiral ascending the morning,

climbing by means of a song into the sun,

to be sung reciprocally by two birds at intervals

in the same tree but not quite in time.


A song that assembles the earth

out of nine notes and silence.

out of the unformed gloom before dawn

where every tree is a problem to be solved by birdsong.


Crex Crex Corcorovado,

letting their pieces fall where they may,

every dawn divides into the distinct

misgiving between alternate voices


sung repeatedly by two birds at intervals

out of nine notes and silence.

while the sun, with its fingers to the earth,

as the sun proceeds so it gathers instruments:


it gathers the yard with its echoes and scaffolding sounds,

it gathers the swerving away sound of the road,

it gathers the rever shivering in a wet field,

it gathers the three small bones in the dark of the eardrum;


it gathers the big bass silence of clouds

and the mind whispering in its shell

and all trees, with their ears to the air,

seeking a steady state and singing it over till it settles.


- Alice Oswald