Carol VanHook CC
Like the Boy Who Can Run but Not Walk, We Hear but Do Not Listen
The first bird doesn’t break
The window, nor the fifth, nor
The twenty-ninth. The world says
Bam, bam. It goes on all
Summer and fall. We buy matching
Shovels for Christmas, his and hers,
And shovel the carcasses into the fire pit.
The smoke is not as black as their feathers,
Which shimmer and reflect the fire
Even as they become the fire. And, still,
Bam, bam, bam, bam,
They keep coming. Nothing works,
Not ribbons, nor drawings
Taped to the window, nor crystals,
Nor the scarecrow. Finally,
We take turns standing there
With lacrosse sticks and growing skill
And catch the birds before they hit.
Life is simpler again, in that
More complicated way. We catch them,
Clip their flight feathers and fling them
Back, as high as we can, to the sky.
To Go in Glory Is Still to Go, but Gloriously
A great bird carries us
Across the Great Plains
And over the mountains, and this
Is the thrill of travel,
To be lifted from our ordinary
Lives and ascend the highest
Heights, and while the talons
Do dig in and draw
A little blood, at least
The chicks in the high nest
Are pleased to see us and sing.
With open mouths they welcome us.
Jeff Mock is the author of Ruthless. His poems appear in The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, New England Review, The North American Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He directs the MFA program at Southern Connecticut State University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife, Margot Schilpp, and their daughters, Paula and Leah.
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