By 6 a.m. I’m sitting at the screen
of my computer, straining for the word
I need to make a couplet sing, the scene
as mute as monasteries, when a bird
impacts my window, never seeing glass.
Its body struck the pane so hard I jumped.
It dropped to ground, too heavy for its mass,
and fluttered out its wings before it slumped.
Investigating carefully, I feared
I’d seen a sparrow take its final flight.
I gave it half an hour. It appeared
the creature might recover life and sight.
It took some time. I kept the dog inside.
The sparrow’s gone, but I don’t think it died.
The visions of this morning put to words,
attempting to appropriate the scene,
is all about the presence of some birds:
a hummingbird that models fuschia’s green
and darting hovers dancing in the air,
and then a flock of seven matching crows,
a gathering once notable and rare.
Perhaps Tiresias its import knows,
but I am only witness to the sight,
as yet unversed in omens, dreams and signs.
I happen to be walking in the light
that morning after storming sideways shines,
and slips and probes and penetrates the gray,
as if it were a hummingbird today.
I glanced outside and saw a butterfly
suspended in the web a spider set
from tree limb to garage. She caught my eye
as fast as silk had wrapped her in its net,
her wings a banner in the morning sun
that fluttered black and gold against the air.
So I prepared to watch a spider run
the web and take the beauty captured there.
A half a minute let me justify
my interference, for no spider came.
I dashed outside to free that butterfly,
and never did I touch her wing, or aim
for any other thing, than liberty
for loveliness in autumn webs, and me.
Sure mariposa is a lovely word,
and psyche packs provocative surprise,
but I declare the language is absurd
that calls fantastic insects butterflies.
Why do we from the dairy designate
a creature so refined it sips the bloom
and flits on air in faerie featherweight?
What message from that name should we assume?
It’s made of wings like petals in the air.
It flutters down and up again above
the vernal earth, with no apparent care
except for sipping nectar, making love,
imprinting every flower with its kiss,
and propagating metamorphosis.
Now rain on my head
I chew and digest
I slaughtered 8 and 40 healthy snails
along the way to work. The drizzle stopped,
but walks were wet and rain enabled trails
of slime. Beneath my feet their cases popped
a satisfying crunch: emphatic end
to garden-lacing Berkeley escargot.
Perhaps a foxglove will not have to bend
for that, and maybe columbines will grow.
I flattened curving beauty then, around
each formless alien, and left a pool
of ichor on the walk. Upon that ground
the next day showed the signs I had been cruel
to snails. Within a week my walk supplied
no evidence of pseudopodicide.
Becoming birds we trade our arms for wings,
transform our mouths to beaks, and let the air
replace our marrow. Disregarding things
like counting and manipulation, hair
is complicated into feathers, hued
and patterned: sex selection’s masquerade.
The embryos are boys until subdued
by estrogen and dipped in earthy shade.
Disdaining houses we begin to soar.
We levitate on thermals and we lean
to swoop into an arc and covet more,
so angling wide again, our motions clean,
our spirits loose, beside ourselves, alert,
we comprehend the subtleties of dirt.