disquietingmuses


"Mourning River"  Copyright 2000 Haze McElhenny



How I Learned That My Feet
Must Always Be On The Ground


Magpie the trickster makes a mistake,
flies in, I don't know why,
then says, "Gotta get out!
Gotta get out!" bashing the windows
where Sky seems to be waiting.
I chase Magpie round and round the room,
ceiling to floor, window to window,
and when I finally catch him,
he has blood on his head
and trembles in my hands.
I think of him as prize, as prisoner,
and make a step to take him to my friend,
when suddenly he stirs, whirs away,
and everything happens all over again.

The mistake was mine, not his.
I leap for him and grab
only a tail feather, not enough,
and when I finally catch him,
he has blood on his head
and trembles in my hands,
and this time I take him out
to where Sky waits, impatient with me,
and I say, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry,"
and Sun puts tears in my eyes
while Magpie makes a trail
through the air that I
can never follow.

I try to think of everything,
but Sun pokes me in the eye,
and Sky leans on me,
and my thoughts are very small.

magpie thinks only of flying
if he thinks at all.


Grace Butcher copyright 2000
from The Seattle Review


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