Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Spring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1



Being Bird-Blooded

Ready said the night. The cold
clipped, pinged—like silver spoons
at a campfire. In the cornfield
by the tracks the toothless crones—

crows—whisk and stir.
Where does the air get that blue-black
color? The night is like a lit bell hole
or a beehive humming underwater,

like the stars, all talk and powder.
Then the raisin-eyed owl pops
and lifts, stuffing his craw with mice.
I have understood snow

as a set of diamonds over hay,
as the pavement of a city
where the people are still, all
sleeping. In the Orient,

in pails of deep amber, someone
who belonged to me once lies quiet.
Awake and above dreams, listening
for that heart, I eat my piece

of moon and wail, like the broken
hawks. Down the last road on the hill
between the barn and the falling-down
schoolhouse, newts wander

in wet dirt. Stay by the pond,
stay by birches turning silver
with fog. Don’t forget the soup
we made together, out of nothing

but water. We watched the kind
green monster and the silly ass
with the pot held between us.
Out in the night sky, the bats

are taking up post, skating.
They pivot, tacking their kites
knit with moth wings. At the end
of August I stacked your silence

at the back of the wood shed,
under back-aching layers of pine
and seasoned ash. Pick an apple, bake
a bread pudding—at the limits

of sadness, the appetite
stiffens. Nitpick. In a new voice,
I start the heron. Ruffled grouse
drum in the hemlocks. Chickadees

pilfer crack-shelled almonds
and their nests grow damp.
Abandonment. We feel like
forgetting ourselves. Here,

the birds know. In late autumn
they gather by family and farm
their way south, making arcs,
craning necks, leaving the old year

in the tooth of the plow.
Winter comes last. The birds
sing before it.  

return to top