— after Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
Whitewashing trees in heavy coats,
The talons of the blackbird shift and crunch
And, seeking our flesh, find purchase.
The mind is a tree with no leaves,
A home to birds and squirrels and clusters of insects.
It is a perfect specimen, carved with initials and hearts and absolutes.
There is no speech. There is only the music
Of swaying branches and falling leaves and whirling blackbirds,
Disassembled and harmonious. There is no speech.
The man and the woman and the blackbird search.
They are entirely different yet exactly the same.
It is so simple, even a child could understand.
It is so simple, only a child could understand.
The blackbird’s song is lovely. The silence is lovely.
Both are music, the song and the silence,
What is not said, the way it is said.
With no pause, the crescendo becomes noise.
Unless the silence is broken, it is deafening.
The ice drips water, drips blood.
Gazing intently for one ceaseless second, we see at once
The droplet, the space beyond, our vague reflection.
“Go slowly,” we say.
There are some that share crumbs with the blackbird,
And the blackbird shares crumbs with them,
And the crumbs are golden.
It is the blackbird that whispers words into ears,
Through tongues, into ears,
The blackbird that shades every eye
From the too-bright sun, that points his wing
Along the horizon toward the obvious, the hidden.
It is the blackbird that condemns us and pardons us and is indifferent.
“This is your scope,” the blackbird says
To all men and to no one, to the living and to death.
“This is your limit,” to the ambitious.
“This is your vision,” to the lethargic.
“This is your horizon,” to those without eyes to see.
Pale birds rush toward pale faces.
Green light transforms the cloth,
The pigment, the wearer,
Until all becomes death.
The priest rends his garment,
The artist his canvas,
The mother her child.
There are no obstructions between the mind and its fears.
There are doors left open that should be locked tight.
There are cracks in the walls that let in too much light.
There is a bridge reaching into the mist
Whose foundation was laid in the hearts of children,
Whose last stone was laid in the senses of men,
Whose watch is kept by no one,
Whose toll is our dreams.
The blackbird builds his nest here.
It is black. It is white. It is covered in ice.
It is black. It is white. It is hard and heavy and tight.
The earth is a dusty blackbird, and it shakes itself, and we fly off.