I say you and mean our life together
will be a picturesque postcard
from the Cape of Good Cheer,
the Cape of Wonder.
Other days it will be a typhoon,
warm waters gathered into storm.
I am divided
and unsure in so many things
the end of every suitor is rest.
To touch the hem of your dress
or the seam of your suit
and leave it. The body waits.
We have the serious business
of living: unpack the boxes
of books and unroll newspaper
from glasses, fill the cabinets
with bowls and measuring cups.
We invite our friends.
Join us. We’ve made a place at our table,
the table we bought at the flea market
and carried five blocks home.
I set it with your plates
and my silverware.
To catch a bird on paper: a bullet. A knife. Wire threads flight from its absence, a frame of metal tricks: I dive, I call, I hunt, I live in the little book of your days. Drawn light on the belly of a wren. Sparrows sing in blue shadow. A pair of ivory-billed woodpeckers turn to each other in almost true escape. No bone, no brain, no heart or blood: only the ravishing departures of what was –
like a city, a beautiful city, a beautiful little city where a couple goes to the ancient temple at sunset. They turn prayer wheels and listen to the whirl of asking, that erasure of silence, that nimble circling of one story with another, and then, since they’re not tired, they find a bar off the main street to buy rounds and drop coins in the jukebox.
A wing on earth is as beautiful as in sky. A knife can open the dark. An afterlife in the menagerie of taxidermy, in the armatures of iron and clay, in the branches and shoals of suspension, in glue and feather and paint, the voice box swallowed by cotton, and the tiny skull anchored like a tiny ship, a radio wave, a mirror, a city, a beautiful little city.