Day’s End on Eel Pond


Sunlight falls through holes in the clouds

spotlighting the marsh grass here and not there,

whitening a sail out on the water, leaving

others in shadow, shining the transom

of the moored cat boat, its bow disappearing.

The bobwhite calls its name without knowing it.


Sparrows and swallows, fussing and twittering.

line up like deacons on the deck railing,

scooting off as one at some mysterious bidding.

The osprey’s mousey squeak disguises

its six-foot wing span, its preying nature.

Wind, rustling in the leaves of the choke cherry,

makes low whistles through the cedars

as it picks up, drops. Song birds crowd

the air, zipping across the foreground

from candle pine to spruce to cedar.

In the distance the town clock strikes eight.

Somewhere a halyard chimes on a mast.

White, webbed chairs on the grey deck,

sit facing out, empty. At the deck corners,

white planters bristle with rosy orange geraniums.

The sun blazes in one window across the pond

as the others, two and three at a time, fill

with artificial light. A gull catches


a current, hangs suspended in it, screeches

like the rusty hinges on a screen door,

and takes one last nose dive. The inlet sneaks

through beach grass and sand into the wide water

and the sky beyond. Dusk softens the colors,

the tang of geraniums hanging on until the last.


— Mary Stewart Hammond