blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1




Slivers of white dishes on a wood floor.
White cows in drought-dead fields.
Being dusted, swept away.
Slack nerves make for dropped dishes.
A bus stopped at the edge of a field.
Being dusted; given dust,
made up of what makes the nerves go slack.
Descending the steps of the bus
at the wrong but appointed time.
They know the local words for weeds
and birds. Little world, hard to leave.
The stack of white china was empty and clean.
It was unfinished. It had not yet begun.


We are all breathing the same thing,
our eyes turned away, our lungs
buried out of view. Together
on the train, we are contained,
speeding through the fine space
between clear and silver, pouring
back out of the holes we drilled
in the earth. An article is stuck,
sucked to the grate, quelling the question.
At the stops, we are all watching
the blurs slur down to letters,
streets named for reasons
long ago razed, the shapes,
crops, and daughters fading
shades under the grid.


Dust rises with our every move,
then falls. The bus, green, silver,
white, on a road through the rows
of crops. In the space between
where the bus ends and the train
begins, five thousand small hearts
are slow in the fat-fronted
dickcissel finches, dying from eating
one round of seed, given up to save
the remainder. The girl in her one
good dress sleeps standing up.
The crops will arrive cleanly wrapped,
no trace of a former story.


Wrap the shards in heavy cloth.
They will work into the skin.
We could breathe glass.
They say rain dove, sparrow hawk.
They say buzzard:
spoken things, breathing things, unfixed.
In the book, a kestrel watches a field,
white in the empty margin.
The girl, below the slack strung wire,
waits by the sign, looks up
from her guide to see
an almost weightless thing
jump to hover nine feet from earth,
waiting for the perfect
second to connect.  

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