Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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Ruffed Grouse Feeding on Moonseed Berries

Three of them, one watching us, wise head turned
so its eye, a wet black moon, fills. The spring
of its body, half-hidden, drums bare ground
behind a fallen leaf. But two—fanned wings,

leaning close like Romeo and Juliet about
the other, whose talon has ripped the turf—
levitate. Their necks, breasts stretch up and out,
beaks, in hunger, part, and in the abrupt

white sky that must be summer’s longest hour
blue moonseed hangs luscious, gravid, lewd
almost, the magnetic, shivering glamour
of these songless ones, feathers like truths

no one but sweet dreamers attend, a riff
of joy never snatched by the unseen hawk,
or gobbled by rat, or toppled, stiffed
by the thick-bellied rattler coiled upon rock.

Audubon’s plate 120, American triad,
two redeemed, nearly, one left, and empty
heaven, untouched paper, moon’s acid,
blistering glow waiting on all that will breed.  end

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