The Silent Valley

by Jacob Agee

Butterfly polje, sometimes. A soft
Silence steeping in the heat, out beyond Kocáje.
Where admirals float amid scant flowers
And cabbage whites twine feints with lilacs,
Around the old stone walls. For movement, this is all:
This, and the evergreens’ odd breeze-sways at the rims. 

Stillness adjourns like the sky itself,
And all things are always still. 

Still are the trunks of the trees.
Still are the dry-stone walls and the drace,
And the karst dacha on the hill above
The still vineyards and the olive groves.
Still is the silence in the chairs in the trees
For the wild boar’s hunter-in-waiting.
Still too is the mine in the shaft
Left unexploded since World War II. 

And silent is the morning: no cock crows.
Silent is the evening: no dogs going at it.
A silent depth, out of earshot of all roads. 

I summer out there in the maquis,
Where it dips into the Silent Valley.
I know it, its half-left fields always empty,
The trailed ridge where snippets of sea 

Are seen between the hills. From the cypress’
Nod of ascension to the pale mauve on
A butterfly’s wing, it tells me as much as itself. 

Polje: valley, fields (Croatian)
Drae: brambles (Croatian)