The Achfary cuckoo

The Achfary cuckoo

If you think it’s quiet,
all day it has been winding up
like love or resentment.

What will set it off suddenly,
this mad untiring machine
we sat in the garden waiting for?

It starts at seven and goes hours
on, loud and near. And
is this some trick of the hillside:

how we lose the triple-notes
as they thread about each other
in their round of echo and origin?

Or is something in this valley replying?
We pick up our talk and go on,
becoming voices and shadows to each other.

Leaning towards each other, we wait
for the bird’s quiet to still us as it does
at last when the blue shadow unhooks

itself from the deeper shadow of trees
and passes hushed over the sheds
to the valley’s far corner

where the machine sets itself up again
to reply to itself, replying
while we talk and then go to sleep by it

and we wake to the memory of it
which stays with us all day as we wait,
and you think it’s quiet.