What is it that keeps me saying what I’ve already said? Self-love, perhaps? Indifference? Ignorance? Or is there simply a birdsong mechanism deep in my heart or throat, the purpose of which is to express a prehistoric loss or need? And yet, for the life of me, if I’ve lost something, I don’t know or remember what it is. And what could I, fortunate as I am to perceive such glorious pain and beauty, possibly need? What paltry gain or merchandise? Then again, it’s possible an invisible hand has placed my cage before a mirror — a hand guided by kindness and a sense of humor, and just a touch of loneliness. I see my reflection. Behind me is an open window. Or is it innocence?
Escape is a Cage
Escape is a cage, but only a tiny one;
the sound of a horn that warns of nothing,
bleating its own indifference —
and out I fly, for the hinge between ribs
has broken, and my wings scatter
seeds to the floor.
Give me an ocean;
the last blind expedient;
a subway’s flash and roar;
fists against glass;
mountains lost in love;
a puppy from my childhood.
Between pillars that keep the sky from falling,
sense is dead on the step —
as if someone says, “Mom! Birdie is gone!”
and I wish how I wish, how I wish how I wish
to be back in.
Poems, Slightly Used, January 18, 2011