Mayhem

By BRENDAN GALVIN

It might be a skirt girls wear

for Beltane or another pastoral

occasion, in Eastern Europe

perhaps. You might see them

whirling in a painting by

one of the Generalic brothers,

maybe, “Spring Festival at

Hlebine,” floralia we couldn’t

name gracing the air about

their ankles. That morning

a mother probably announced,

“Today you can wear your

Mayhems to the dancing.”

But this afternoon a redtail

flashed across my windshield

and landed, wings spread,

in the roadside grass, then

rose into the left lane

and flapped for five seconds

parallel to my car

before turning for the trees,

a limp attitude of surrender

dangling from its hook,

a spinal cord already snipped.

Behind glass it was as soundless

as a pantomime, but the mayhem

had already begun.

 

Brendan Galvin is the author of sixteen collections of poems. Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 was a finalist for the National Book Award. The Air’s Accomplices, a collection of new poems, is forthcoming from LSU Press. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Poetry’s Levinson Prize, among others. He lives in Truro, Massachusetts. 
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