By CURTIS BAUER
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