This film is the story of an 86-year-old, war veteran poet, Peter Kane Dufault, as he comes to terms with his past and the collective sense of a threatened future. This is a story about connection and loss, both personal and political. Through on-screen interactions with his son, two Nobel laureates and the actor Chris Noth, Peter reveals how poetic language and imagination can bridge the rifts that open between individuals and the larger political, environmental and emotional landscape of their lives.
The actor Chris Noth pays a visit to the poet, who was once his American history teacher and soccer coach. He recalls the formative influence the old man had on his life. They play soccer together. Peter and his son travel to Cape May to find the declining American kestrel. Peter recites a poem about his deceased daughter who brought him a fledgling kestrel to raise. A kestrel appears as if "quarried out of a rainbow," the symbol of all that is vanishing from what's left of the American wilderness. He expresses his outrage at the past administration's piecemeal demolition of the Constitution in a poem called "Blues Recitative," and acknowledges his disappointment with the present administration. In the end, Peter admits that he's glad that he doesn't have to teach American history any more. He observes a colony of seals plunging into a stormy surf, reflecting on the mortal entity that the earth has become. He walks away, alone, vanishing into the mist.