Michael Collier


Three in a group then one coming from a distance
to make four dividing into two scavenging pairs.

They waddle like ducks, dibble like robins.
This close to the earth they have nothing to say.

And yet as they bobble in a hands-behind-back
colloquy of feints and nods they are the ankle boots

of an idea gone missing, their laces threaded
through eyelets but left untied, accountants

of random expenditures, connoisseurs
of the worm’s catacombs of waste, they limp eastward,

toward the mountains, covered in contractor bag
capes, one wiry boot then the other on the ground.

If they would stay just where they are all morning,
they’d be the monument to the history they’re looking for.

MICHAEL COLLIER’s The Missing Mountain: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming, August, 2021, University of Chicago Press. He is Director Emeritus of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences and Professor of English at the University of Maryland.

Read more by Michael Collier:

Poem in B O D Y
Another poem in B O D Y
Sixteen Poems collected at Innesfree Poetry Journal
Poem in TriQuarterly
Poem at PBS.org
Another poem at PBS.org
Lots of poems at Poetry Foundation