Thursday, January 6, 2011

Red Wing

The people stroll separately
miserable or oblivious,
in the blackbird rain,
the birds' red armpits 
like sugar maple leaves
strewn across the black feather carpet

Fallen angels gunned down in ignorance,
their intentions completely misread.

What if that was our last chance?

Someone is chanting USA,USA,USA.
The children have already unknowingly adapted.
Look, one of them has a dead bird dressed for an outing
in a baby carriage.

A group of boys have propped up hundreds of black
feathered corpses with glue, pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks,
rotting taxidermy in an elaborate cityscape.

They are just over there excitedly gathering stones
while the oldest of them howls
and pours a river of gasoline down Main Street.

The somber ones
dressed in black, thin, scarred wrists, skinny jeans
huddle together in the shrubs
reciting quiet funeral rites
and burying each bird,
sealing them with scented oil,
a prayer, a kiss.

There are some tears but no questions.
They understand, rightly or wrongly, that this is something they had coming to them.

I am driving through the area trying to make sense of this
distracted by a sudden awareness
of chemicals seeping into me from everywhere at once
through my lungs and skin and hair
hidden in every morsel of food
and drop of water I try not to consume.

I sense danger here.
Look at my hands tremble.

Take a well-washed mayonnaise jar
and line it with cotton balls for comfort
lettuce for nutrition
wrap it in construction paper and tape
to block out both light and horror -
a container for my soul.

Because you know what's coming down here
is not just the every day kind of
messed up.

But when I call for it,
there's no response
just a note on the refrigerator
that I cannot bear to read.

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