22 Views of a Bird in Black
1. There is another winter storm coming. And then another. Standing naked in the white might be all you’re good for. Don’t speak your name. Have some dignity.
2. The birds light up the sky with wings. Turtles with round slowness. Killers with their hands.
3. All the while you’ve been breathing, so has everything else. A white horse comes out of a stable into the snow. Ice cracks under its hooves.
4. How many clouds are there? Do you believe in the future? The skin of a snake in a field of asters and chamisa. If you take off your face you’ll discover the sky.
5. There was a river with silver fish. One of them gave itself to the blue heron. Was that you?
6. Just stand where you are. God needs a place to rest for a moment and you’ve been volunteered. Hurts, doesn’t it.
7. Their worst nightmare came true. It’s about time, one of them said.
8. Half a moon was bright enough. The coyotes were singing. Your dreambody was traveling about. Everybody has one, some say. Tiny bats and leaves in the darkness and the rest of the moon. You can see it if you stop pretending.
9. The rain kept coming under the door. It’s the sailors dead at sea.
10. There was a monk who was silk inside from meditating. Everywhere he went there were long banners flowing behind him and people tripped and fell down and didn’t know why.
11. The toad looked up at the man. Well, well they both thought, somewhat surprised.
12. Hummingbirds spiral about each other so fast they should have stoplights. But they only pause, little thunder wings, and rush on, lightning. The sky tries to keep up. We’re pulled in its wake. That’s why we’re all dizzy.
13. They died before you understood you were supposed to run to their side.
14. They escaped through mountain passes. The light was so clear and bright they had to close their eyes and hold hands so that most of them didn’t go blind from the reflection off the snow. The leaders would then go to the back of the line when they could no longer see. At night they slept in caves with sometimes no fires at all. Some died on the way, some didn’t. Everywhere else people continued to believe in electricity not understanding how one world ends and another begins.
15. The farmer was eighty-three. His hands were knobs of callus. He’d lost children and a wife. The farm had been sold years before. He knew that most things people tell you are worth very little. The cancer was painful and took its time killing him. “The feast of life is over,” he said just before he died.
16. There were two people who took different paths. One stayed on the same path all the time. The other tried quite a few. They both wore out their legs so much they had to go to the hospital and their legs were amputated. Since neither had any money they were put out on the sidewalk to beg for their survival. They became best friends. And found they were most happy to have nowhere to go.
17. There was a man who thought he was sane and so convinced of it was he that he set out to make the world over in his own image. Later when he understood it was all for naught, he chose a poem for his tomb: “Bright wings out of darkness. The mouths of birds full of song.”
18. The dream stretches out in the bed, feet longing to visit Saturn. When the body wakes up it’s covered in sweat.
19. Mouths open in a silent scream, all those people eating bitter roots to make the pain go away, all those creatures, little and big, the offspring of desire desiring desire. Black tarantulas cross the highway. Put your hand down, they crawl right over it.
20. Many people have slightly glowing purple cauliflower heads and their minds are Medusas on the surface of a green, green sea. Is it your turn for a holiday on a flat, warm beach? When Jorge fell down dead in the kitchen, murdered, his wife bent down and retrieved his wallet and then went out shopping. Miles away their children’s legs turned bright red from jellyfish poison even though they never went into the sea.
21. An apple falls. Smoke blossoms in the sky. The sound of wings.
22. The sky is burning. You should be too.