Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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You’re still waiting for charms against night
and lostness. I know the song of the wood thrush,

stitch of the clock. I know latchkey and outskirts
are just different ways of going home. Willow, milkweed,

the sewer grate where the wasps rose up
like fevered prayers. The pages of books

to shelter between. I’ve been remembering you
as I sing my flatland girl to sleep—ee-oh-lay  

ee-oh-lay—just so she’ll know there were songs. I lie.
I say the flood was only a dream, the wild beast

prowls only in the hills. Her cheek
is a wing on my passerine heart. My heart,

its fondness for perch and undergrowth, scatter
of last year’s winds. I won’t speak

of Orion, how holes in his belt outshine
our sun, or his shoulder waiting to spill

its terrible light in our daytime sky.
And if the house should shake

with the gait of a transient earth,
if drought should snag

in the backs of our throats
for good, at least she’ll have known

my voice in the wandering
moment of sleep falling down. Girl I was,

you keep asking the way
fledglings beg at an empty nest. Go back

to your shirtless, half-boy, August afternoons.
Go to your footpath, your hill of shade.

And if your feet lose their way, watch out
for spindle and kiss, the time the match burned

down to your hand. And if you look to me
for assurances from a future map,

all I can say is I haven’t yet told you all I know
of winter, the bruise

of late fruit, and all these books still split
open in my hands.  

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