THE BIRDS OF RECKONING
Sycamore trees, like ethereal sentinels,
wait for their color to turn over while standing stark
against the water’s edge. A reach of branches dressed in silk
above me; my feet buried in the cold mud.
I once fed myself to anyone who saw me.
So which say more – our palms or our faces?
I suspect I can be read, a contraction of lines
spelling my name: two syllables, spoken best by me. I press
my hand to my cheek, a solemn affair
because my touch is still the only one I crave.
I find the egret on the rocks ahead,
a blue silhouette that shifts with me, lifting wings
that have been carved from my bones. My body is caught
alive, but there are hawk feathers in the water.
The sycamore trees have not moved though they move me.
I continue to feed myself to the birds and am swallowed
by hundreds of feathered throats,
a surrender in the canal where two rivers meet.
I remember my taste and feel honor in sharing.
I can be retained, significance resting upon my tongue
and home is found in the question of my skin, shed here.
The guardians surround me as a wisp of breeze
lifts what is left of my body. What is left
is my heart, plunged deep in the waters to be reborn.
The trees whisper in ghost languages but I
am not alarmed that I understand. I say I am a bird,
but my body is defiant even as it transforms.
A question of whether I will be remembered.
“I want to throw a party for the heartbreak
that turned you into a poet.” – Mindy Nettifee
I am a shapeshifter, shadows of previous lives
gathered in a singular place and haunched
under street lamps as the dark drags the day
back into the light. Thrust forward, it comes slowly,
the sky iridescent in its struggle, and yet:
I am in awe, urging. I am saddened by my lacking
as though my body was formed with an open blade,
imperfect. The silhouettes retreat and I stand naked
in the brilliance of noon. I’ve habitually written words
through heartbreak, a practiced effort of placing language
before thought and thought before feeling, but
I became a poet when my lives broke apart – scattered
like confetti in a breeze, leaving behind this one life:
broken, but here, nevertheless. I am a note of history,
the source of which has become a bouquet of lives,
though I grieve for what I have yet to lose.
Shadows trail as I walk back into the night,
arriving as it has with the same struggle as the day,
overturning itself like finger-paintings hung to dry.
My words are the same, dripping from my lips: a rouge
of becoming – risen in sensitivity, settled by savagery.
The honeycombed earth tessellates
on the horizon, speaking of wholeness,
a naked prayer for becoming. Galvanized,
I leap, which is to say I am not falling but flying.
I have nothing more to say about my trajectory,
a path I discovered in my hunt for home.
Loneliness is when we have forgotten ourselves,
and so I search with my hands in the dirt.
I’ve yet to find my body, but I have found
the mountain’s skeleton beneath my nails.
Cleaned with my teeth, the grit lingers
in a passionate affair, and so I swallow
the spirit with the spit. Hungry for identity.
I step towards the edge of everything and
postulate where I’ll land. Perhaps the earth
will devour me as I have consumed it.
A fair trade: listen to how her body speaks,
quaking as I disturb her once more. We meet
where the sky climaxes, perfected in want.