Watching Starlings (Watching Two Starlings High In A Black Walnut Tree in April)
Their balance, while temporary, seems eternally sure.
One rubs his beak on the sun-warmed bark
like a blade on a whetstone.
The other chooses from the roughly
ten thousand sounds starlings are capable
of making, emitting a two-tone whistle
which mimics the sound of the second
half of a life-changing question.
If not for the wind chime’s song I would not have known
what I wasn’t seeing, so still it all seemed.
Only by not watching starlings could I
acknowledge the entire tree was moving
with the flexibility the most exact feeling or
thought must have to survive year after year
as it branches out, spreading across open space.
Ask a starling what the difference is between feeling and thought
who, stopping for minutes, may seem like they will remain
as long as they need, completely still, utterly certain
in each feather that everything in fact is moving
at the speed of the first half of a life-changing answer
Warm Breeze, Mid-Afternoon in Mid-Winter
At the walnut tree’s highest reach
the day’s breeze sets twigs and thin branches
tense like frantic lost messages, last waves goodbye
but the slur slows through the random knots
and twists of the limb structure and’s spread asunder
further in by the outward-reaching limbs and widening
resolve of main branches to the absolute breaking
of leftover negative space: down where I am, humming
a tune I heard my beloved sing and will not forget,
just my voice in the quiet, here at the trunk where all is still.
A week in the new house and we’re hearing and seeing things.
Black walnut trees scatter the light. Yellow leaves falling early
and long, through August and September. A few nights ago
someone banging around downstairs woke me up.
At my desk I hear a heavy foot take two strides in the room above
then stop. The room is as empty as a rationale.
One of my dogs is going to die. Almost a reminder of himself.
Behind the house I’m walking beside him in the cooling world
when a walnut pod, size of a baseball, smacks off the eave, bounces
and resounds on the porch’s tin roof. So there they are, my ghosts,
and so many left to fall, real despite what I believe or don’t, reminders,
inconsequential and eventually crumbling within softening husks
but for the moment so hard you’d have to drive a pickup truck
over them to hear a few of them crack open the inedible fruit.
The breeze comes as promised
without rain but we don’t mind
so much is unreliable a sunny
afternoon unpredicted is welcome
and as last year and the years
before on summer days like this
yellow walnut leaves cascade
a promise the breeze won’t break