Friday, August 07, 2015

Warning Plumage

I’ve come to expect the crow
feathers shed in July, black and tattered emblems
of a year of urban life. This summer
I did not find any. Instead

a Canada goose flight primary on the Esplanade, unpatterned brown
glossy underneath with tegmen. What a perfect
quill-pen this would have made, what poems
would have flowed from its sharpened tip to parchment, ringing
with night-flight cries of spring and fall.

on our front porch, a blue-jay feather flecked with white paint—
from someone’s hatband? Someone who treasured blue,
until summer drought, cloudless glaring sky
wore out that color’s welcome. Thrown down in disgust, this feather
is a plea for shade, for rain, for autumn.

Maybe I’ll find macaw plumage, murmuring multi-hued
of encroaching tropics, jungles and hurricanes. Maybe roadrunner feathers
BEEP-BEEPing warnings to passing urban coyotes
(and us: the desert comes, it comes)

or like a Russian prince, rescue a firebird from a trap
and be granted visions—forests burning,
cities aflame with riots: save us, magic birds, O save us
from the things we’ve done.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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