In the balmy morning
the redbirds flutter the feeder-bars brimming
with sunflower seeds: the titmouse’s whistling

leads me to narrow my rounds,
for I want breakfast and coffee, sounds
of purple martins in the lounge

of memory’s fountain, that richness
humming like loosening tresses
girls seek to lace the thickness

curling in bunches side by side
with boys digging round a flagpole, then
riding on a see-saw to seek a bride

or groom following the watery
image the world scores without hurry
as lovers embrace and loiter

among shadows of yellow flashes
winding air surrounding poplars grasses
wilt into season’s slap-dashing

banking spheres toward another sky
to push this Coastal Plain into a sigh,
the long breath exhaling from on high,

and then there’s that other Fall, for sure,
returning to us we look back on, insecure.

Shelby Stephenson was poet laureate of North Carolina, 2015-2018. His most recent book of poem is, SLAVERY and FREEDOM on PAUL’S HILL (Press 53).