He says that he wasn't "thinking of calling down a consequence".
"The Great Scarf of Birds" Analysis
by Taylor Thrasher and Raven Thompson
This is an allusion to the story of Lot's wife in the Bible:
Two angels tell Lot to flee from the city of Sodom.
In John Updike’s poem “The Great Scarf of Birds”, he uses diction and figurative speech to depict the beautiful autumn season to show how inspiring and uplifting nature is to man.
was dramatic with great straggling V's
of geese streaming south, mare's-tails above them.
Their trumpeting made us look up and around.
The course sloped into salt marshes,
and this seemed to cause the abundance of birds.
As if out of the Bible
or science fiction, a cloud appeared, a cloud of dots
like iron filings which a magnet
underneath the paper undulates.
It dartingly darkened in spots paled, pulsed compressed, distended yet
held an identity firm: a flock
of starlings, as much one thing as a rock.
One will moved above the trees
the liquid and hesitant drift.
Come nearer, it became less marvellous,
more legible, and merely huge.
"I never saw so many birds!" my friend exclaimed.
We returned our eyes to the game.
Later, as Lot's wife must have done,
in a pause of walking, not thinking
of calling down a consequence,
I lazily looked around.
The rise of the fairway above us was tinted,
so evenly tinted I might not have noticed:
but that at the rim of the delicate shadow
the starlings were thicker and outlined the flock
as an inkstain in drying pronounces its edges.
The gradual rise of green was vastly covered;
I had though nothing in nature could be so broad but grass.
I watched, one bird,
prompted by accident or will to lead,
ceased resting; and, lifting in a casual billow,
the flock ascended as a lady's scarf,
transparent, of gray, might be twitched
by one comer, drawn upward and then;
decided against, negligently tossed toward a chair:
the southward cloud withdrew into the air.
Long had it been since my heart
had been lifted as it was by the lifting of that great scarf.