Lines Regarding the Black Feathers on Canton

By CURTIS BAUER

 

Grackles foraging outside of a Whataburger near North Lake Park.

Soon enough the grackles will truth

the yard out back beneath the wires,

 

the sidewalk cracks, the live oak roots.

They will lose their dying feathers, now glossed

 

a greasy sheen the females polish

their beaks with. They must be blind,

 

or like a shiny bone. Or they mistake

the burr and clatter from the other’s

 

throat for song, the clamor a talisman

that pulls them in. Like a lover might

 

feel the pulse in the other’s arm

and want to hold it tighter, let

 

the beating become a surging matched

in her chest. When I pass the grackles

 

on 21st, they turn and watch me pass

like the crows back in Oskaloosa

 

used to look down on me, the only man

walking those blank streets, and watch.

 

Silence here can needle into the cracks

and weaken a structure’s core. Like water

 

erodes every solid, can wear it paper thin.

A song a woman sang me once, a tender

 

orchid of a song so delicate I thought hearing

it would wilt every molecule of its beauty, did this,

 

too. The voice that bloomed the song’s flower

today became the grackle explosion and call.

 

Beneath the surface, beside the roots that black

beckons me back to the lover I was, to recall

 

what beauty is lost, the stain my life has become.

 

 

 

Curtis Bauer is the author of three poetry collections: his first, Fence Line (2004), won the John Ciardi Poetry Prize; Spanish Sketchbook (2012) is a bilingual English/Spanish collection published in Spain; and The Real Cause for Your Absence will be released March 2013 by C&R Press. 

Photo by Rich Anderson from Flickr Creative Commons

Lines Regarding the Black Feathers on Canton

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