Before the bitter winter comes,
the purple martins gather.
No extract of coal could be more black
than their glossy iridescent masses.
They trade away winter in hook-neck gourds
and staircase-less apartments
for the southern kiss of warmer days,
and the drooping mass of Spanish moss.
Mosquitoes bred in muddy sloughs
they pluck like cherries on the wing.
Their passing, thick as shadow,
is right and perfect on the sky
as a cat on a porch, blue lines on a page,
or a smile on a porcelain doll.