Wednesday, April 8, 2009

With and Without

A piece that appeared in Massachusetts Review

I'm walking in the everyday (like everyday) and looking
around as I go the way I used to when I was a kid, gathering
things (with my eyes now only) to put in my now
metaphorical pockets and take them out later during
Tedium to examine and starlings (about a handful)
are scattered on a big smooth lawn as if tossed there now
by X (like a hand) that does that kind of thing for reasons
of its own and they, not minding it at all (the lack
of a theory or an explanation) begin as always
to go about their business at once: balancing, watching
with amused & fierce attention whatever there is
to be seen, seeing who can make the best high looney
whistle or fat and juicy chuckle or squeaking sound
and creaking sound Hke Count Dracula's door
coming open, meanwhile stabbing down into the tough
hard mesh of roots and grass, the stems crammed in
together by the dirt that's been so dry, stabbing down
so as to pluck a juicy squirming thing and let it drop
inside their black and boiling inner works...and then
all together and suddenly they rise into the air (as if
to some loud but inaudible clap or bang) and curve away
and vanish all together, taking everything with them.
I find myself staring at their absence the same way
I stare at the very last scene of a dream sometimes,
the only one I stiU have with me on waking, with
a sleepy inability to get it straight what all this is exactly
but feeling no distress at that, some kind of rightness
in fact. Then, after a breath, the ordinary grass
is back again, single-minded now (a thought without
starlings), less green, more dry, more uniform,
more silent, and then almost everything else is back also.

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