blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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I strip by the spillway,
            taste dawn’s copper light
                       in the sweet-and-sour leaves

of the sorrel weed. Whitman’s beard
            unravels in pond mist.
                        His voice rasps through cattails.

The night his words first flared
            like sparks from the page, I said
                        to the dark: I, too,

will indenture myself to lightning;
            I, too, will trace constellations
                        printed on the sky’s carbon paper.

Last night a drunk friend
            blamed Whitman for lighting the torch
                        that guided planes into Manhattan’s towers.

This morning, Canada geese squawk
            like talk-show hosts
                       before skidding into pond scum.

A crow pecks the rainbow
            from a trout
                       gasping on the shore’s cracked mud.

A bass snaps at a dragonfly
            suturing the air with blue thread, wings
                       shimmering like stained-glass splinters.

In the hush between waves,
            the mist whispers:
                        I know they say I’m blind

as the cloud erasing itself
            on water, as the moon
                        with its gray eye patch.

I know they say I can no longer shoot
            sunlight out of me
                        against the sunlight breaking into me.

But I am and always will be
            a sun roaming the streets, pressing
                        my ear to the lips of the dying,

gathering their last words
            like a sparrow
                        picking seeds from dung.

Mist clears. A starling sways
            on the top shoot of a white spruce,
                        scatters stars from its breast.                

A muskrat slips from its hole
            in the willow bank, unfurls
                        its signature on water.

The sun shuffles from the swamp behind me,
            stamps a path with its boot soles
                        across the pond for anyone to follow.  end

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