The DMQ Review

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Bob Dornberg 2003

Folding Metaphors
“Two thousand cranes, not origami”
                        — Peggy Shumaker

One thousand birds in your home will bring peace;
this the Japanese tell us.

Certainly the appeal of so many birds
must transcend the surface. At first, with cranes
or even starlings, only the negatives arise.

One thousand birds, you have to watch your step.
So many cranes the ceiling closes in on you.
All those eyes watching you make love.

But like the knowledge that a book's last poem
is rarely the last written, the fullness of these words
will fall into your lap like a single white feather.

Of course the obvious leap is the act of folding paper.
The adage takes on new life, telling you: hours
at home collecting paper cuts is indeed time well spent.

Sitting with your spouse constructing birds,
the silence between you will hang
like a tiny gray spider swaying in the exhale of your breath.

Still, the serenity of a thousand mute birds
can eventually lose its sharp crease,
become troublesome to the most patient of lovers.

So many birds demand attention to detail.
Soon enough you must decide where to put them
if any semblance of a normal life is expected.

Five hundred hung from the ceiling,
two beneath each lamp, a dozen on the coffee table,
and one for each alarm clock, still so many.

Soon, you are hiding birds in the closet, tucking them
inside with the phone bill each month, on plates
at dinner parties, hoping some will abandon the nest.

And then, epiphany: In a house with one thousand birds
there is no room for fighting, no place for anger.
Two thousand wings to fan the words away.

Justin Evans
Copyright 2003

Justin Evans currently teaches English in a small gambling town on the Nevada-Utah border. His poetry has appeared in Petroglyph, the Jabberwock Review, and most recently, The Green Hills Literary Lantern. He has work forthcoming in Sabella.

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