Six late-August evenings (5)
Ithaca, 1987. Walking down the middle of a street
In Collegetown. Above my head in the oak arching
Over the road, splattering sunlight like a Pollock
Being painted over every second under my feet,
The eternal drone of a lone cicada. No over or under,
No depth or arc, no resolution. Through the oak leaves
A bluejay flashes through with the suddenness
Of a thing that carries its own sky. The drone stops,
The cicada’s head drops papery at my feet like
An origami animal of surprise that even the eternal dies.
Charlottesville, twenty years later. My children call it
The jungle. Half the back yard shaded by maple,
Mimosa and oak. A path meandering along its fenced perimeter
Between saplings and ivy. The jungle extends through
The entire neighborhood’s backyards as if by communal
Design. The broad winged hawk has taken up residence
Because the neighbors behind us feed songbirds.
We feed the nightstain of crows that drop on our deck
In the morning, ungainly dew, to pluck last night’s dinner scraps
From our crow trough. On a hot August afternoon I walk
From the deck to the edge of the jungle. Something has caught
My eye: a blade of blue sticking from the grass.
It’s a bluejay feather, standing in the earth like a pen, its quill
Embedded several inches into the ground. A few feet
Beyond that, the impossibly soft white belly feathers, strewn
Like an exploded dandelion. A few feet away, nothing else
But the bluejay’s head. So much smaller in its silence.