Sounds of the Day


When a clatter came,

It was horses crossing the ford.

When the air creaked, it was

A lapwing seeing us off the premises

Of its private marsh.  A snuffled puff

Ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking,

unblocking a hole in a rock.

When the black drums rolled, it was water

Falling sixty feet into itself.


When the door

Scraped shut, it was the end

Of all the sounds there are.


You left me

Beside the quietest fire in the world.


I thought I was hurt in my pride only,

Forgetting that,

When you plunge your hand into freezing water,

You feel

A bangle of ice round your wrist

Before the whole hand goes numb.


Norman McCaig


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