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

Related Posts

Masterclasses headshots

Unique Craft Masterclasses with The Common

Each class is two hours long and includes a craft talk and Q&A with the author, generative exercises and discussion shared in breakout sessions, a take-home list of readings and writing prompts, a free “Behind the Scenes” session (date TBD) about what literary magazine editors look for in submissions. 

Image of train station

E.A. Robinson Leaves by Rail

ABBIE KIEFER
Raw granite and brick, hip roof like a helmet. At its height, it hummed: seventeen trains daily, lumbering in along the river. I imagine E.A. here with his ticket and his trunk. With his back to the brick, listening for a whistle.

Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park

Cihu

ADAM DALVA
One of my life’s regrets is skipping the Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park when I was in Taiwan. ... I spent a week wandering Taipei… but all along, I was thinking about Cihu. I’d researched the park before my trip, but my host said… he’d rather show me the art and night-life of his city. I was twenty, night-life susceptible.