F. Daniel Rzicznek

April 5, Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area: hooded merganser, common merganser, Canada goose, mallard, gadwall, black duck, ruddy duck, ring-necked duck, coot, blue-winged teal, tundra swan. For a moment a dozen white egrets rapturing the middle stretch of marsh. The dog and I turn south. I choose a piece of gravel to take with me in case it is the last time. Green voices in the Saxon trees—a migration evading catalog, a scripture renewed under scrim of reed, muskrat claw and heron foot etching, wind-play of wave on mud the sun draws down leaving a widening text brittle to the eye, treacherous to step. The long-ailing patriarch leaves our world at five in the songbird-studded morning. The dog rips a paw. The network fails. You take the glances of everyone in the room into a snakeskin pouch that floats like a bell beneath your breastbone. You step a day closer to eternity. Soon I am a child organizing his room. Soon I am searching for a grave, for a loaf of bread reversed, for a hand inside the storm clouds taking notes.






This piece is the child of a recent dog training/bird watching expedition. It is #214 in a serious of 365 blocks under the title "Leafmold." Leaf mold is also a type of compost formed from leaves that fall to the ground and take a while to decay. This word found me while reading Basil Bunting's poem "Attis: Or, Something Missing." Go kick up some leaves in the woods and you will smell it.