1. The Visit
In dark of each night, at 3:57 exactly, nine black birds fly in. One perches above each eye, one at my heart, one at my gut, two at my legs, one at my head, one at my sex. The ninth does as it sees fit. At 3:58 they begin to peck. At first it’s like a nudge, or a knock, or the tug of a ribbon around a neck. I toss, I turn, I try to throw them off but they strike harder, drawing specks of blood. At five they rise and circle thrice before flying off.
2. The Weight
A warm evening, late fall, and across the fading fields the children call like birds;
some, deciding when to migrate, reply in kind, shrieking like children.
I want to remember this world while it still breathes.
I have hosted this year in my body, a tumor or stone. I have worn it
turtleneck tight at my throat worn it a weighty too-warm coat
against cold against fire and smoke against my will; I drag it
as spare part, the many-colored coat of our historic home.
I have borne it dense like the fodder of quick-trigger cops
and mad bombers, dead weight, yet a white rhino lighter;
felt its hot breath on my neck, polar icecaps’ drip between
my shoulders, its tectonic plates’ shift at the flat of my back.
I used to lie awake unquiet for my family.
Now the scope has grown. A preliminary mourning.
The evening grows colder; birds circle and home for the night.
The sunset flames the river as of old, back-lit, golden, as if it’s just
beautiful, and not a metaphor for something dire.
3. While It Still Breathes
How to bear it—
this year does not let up; absurd
apocalyptica of disaster.
And yet I could name all day
the beauty we’re blessed—
morning’s strong coffee, the sun
warm on my back,
everywhere bright yellow: forsythia,
daffodils, goldfinch at the feeder.
Two crows dive. Calling and cawing, they drive
a red-tailed hawk from their young.
Compassionate action, I tell myself, if despair
and fear are cloudcover be airstream.
Heft, or set it down
let down off my back let it slide
down to earth to rest; the better
to free my arms to defend or lift it
to cradle, or weave for it a nest.