Hobble Creek Review
The Ornithologist Places A Bird Bone In Her Mouth
She found the barred owl’s pellet
beneath the only oak tree next to beaver’s
pond. She had stepped over snakes pulling
themselves through dried oak leaves. The sound
of the dead being dragged into undergrowth.
The pellet was the color of great
blue heron with a skyful of wings on his back.
A teardrop with feathers. Could this be a mouse’s
tail or a hardened sinew? It smelled somehow of hide.
Wet horses. It smelled of a mad gallop.
She broke it apart. Inside, a bird’s claw.
Small as a star. She heard the hawk wing
itself into cloud. Her father’s voice in her head,
Always keep one foot on the ground….Now she could keep
one foot from the sky next to her teeth.
The Ornithologist Accidentally Finds Her Life
list inside the faded Peterson's A Field Guide to the Birds.
Day-glo orange stickers in the shape of eggs
shouted her name. And handwritten in pencil her childhood
address singing in a little girl's voice. She had traced
the illustration of the house sparrow on the blank
facing page, re-creating the bird in her own hand.
She touched the wavery lines of eye. She touched wild
streaks along the breast, touched jagged edge of wingtips.
She touched a longing that could never take flight.
The Ornithologist On Hearing A Robin Warble In The White
Birch Tree Remembers Her Grandmother
and how each year, after the long journey
her grandmother would pull her outside
into the apple orchard and there taught
her to whistle for the robin. Even now
apple blossoms smell to her of old age.
The flutter near her ears and then the robin’s
strange grip on her shoulders. Was there a nest?
Did she keep an eggshell? And wasn’t there one year
when they found an ugly hatchling, all pink
and raw, eyes blinking blearily...didn’t they try
to save it? Or is that her sister’s memory?
And how on the porch, watching the bats twirl
the night around their wings, she heard
Chautauqua Lake pulling itself constantly
onshore, each wave a wet wing beating toward home.
The Ornithologist Builds A Vessel To Find You
I bend the twigs of a Baltimore Oriole's nest into the shape
of cupped hands. I break the ivory of pileated wood-pecker
to create moonlight. I tear the mud blood from the chimney swift's
mouth to patch my vessel. I pull on the eye mask of cedar
waxwing for secrecy. I swallow the instinct of the homing pigeon.
I rip the talons from the osprey for a tighter grip of air.
I map the geography of mating calls from male cardinal.
I call with the throat of many songbirds. And with each stroke
from the wings of the broad winged hawk
I plucked from sky, I pull myself closer.
The Ornithologist Speaks To Her Desire
and I have eaten of your gossamer-winged
gaze, your azure eyes, your pygmy blues
I have eaten all the milkweed sprinkled in the meadows
where you once scattered your gaze
and I have eaten the long rattling scream from your
nights eaten what you thought you had lost in the empty
church of whispers eaten what you lost in the nave
in the songs in your lost books of psalms
and I have eaten your mourning eaten your wanderings
in the woods of your father I have eaten your curses and
your dreams of the mountain path strewn with pine needles
and your distracted sighs that fall like the sound of a child’s
kite diving in a harsh wind and I have eaten the dark seed
the green bramble the water lily that slowly opens I have
eaten the blackberry that is your is your oh to have eaten
and to have drank and to have taken the chosen journey of your mouth
Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming or have appeared in
Pebble Lake Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, qarrtsiluni,
blossombones, Spillway, and elsewhere. Two chapbooks,
Ophelia Unraveling (dancing girl press), and, Small Portrait
and the Woman Holding A Flood In Her Mouth (Binge Press),
are forthcoming in 2012.