On the wing

Found Object
for G. Z.

The knot of roots that used to be
a bird perched in the lilac bush
now sits long-legged atop
my file cabinet, fast
friends with an alarm clock
and an aloe vera that has dangled
its tattered crown down on
a ridiculous length of rope. What I
can only call a knot may not ever
have been bird – but certainly
something difficult to name
that spoke of hope, Dickinson’s
thing with feathers. The lifted wings,
the fanned tail tell of just-
arrested flight, as if by window
(the wingbone broken in mid-wish,
the tiny clot in the brain that clogs
the unfathomable works) or
from a cell phone tower’s fatal wink.
Frayed muscles can snap, they said,
appalled – the survey team
that found an entire midnight
flock of warblers dead or dying,
littering the ground all around
some guy-wired, steel-girdered
ridgetop Lorelei. It seems
the low clouds & fog forced them down
& the tower’s lights were just right to take
the place of polestars. Imagine it:
to have one’s deep instinctual quest
(like a sex drive, except it’s toward a place)
derailed in favor of this frantic circling –
a comet captured by an unexpected sun.
They will not tell you this on the 6:00
o’clock news. There’s always
some lurid tale of a car crash or drug
bust right down the street, my God,
they were all such good kids, too – straight As,
athletic scholarships . . .
But this – knobs & bumps
of wood, clumped
ends of rhizomes, the grain
that could be feathers, the missing
claws and beak that I neglected
earlier to mention – this isn’t
bird in the hand, but in the bush.
I was myself to blame or credit for it.
(It was I, said the sparrow, with
my little arrow.) I cut it
from the bank with a shovel
when I moved the wall back.
The lilac seemed unaffected.
It remains a sturdy refuge from
the sharp-shinned hawk, a place
where bluebird or cardinal straight
from the bath can ruffle dry their feathers, &
where a hundred other contingencies
might flourish – wholly unguessed at –
down among the baroque
& deliberate roots.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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