It was that teen who made our sky inscribable.
Juliet. I would I were thy bird, she said. The tickle
of her eyelashes made everything salient. Her lover,
needing more time, called the lark the owl. Made day
night. Even the sun pulled back into its harbour.
But as the world dawned behind the cypress trees,
the mud was credible and the air was chill.
Look, who wouldn’t go as far as that girl’s lover?
Someone thought to make the New World up of these:
(their eyes flash me such mysteries)
one of every bird mentioned by Shakespeare. Someone knew:
everyone wants providence in the fall of a sparrow,
and wants their pretty chickens not to die.
Everyone wants (whatever they say) some kind of
garrulous, even some kind of authored,
made-articulate sky. Dear America: here’s a fad,
here’s the starling. One of the bard’s. It speaks
nothing but “Mortimer,” so Shakespeare says. Well, but
I remember Shakespeare’s nature. In it, Lear went mad.
And I myself am famished and ill-clad.
No, nothing but “Mortimer,” and even then,
Death claimed the first syllable, claimed it anyway,
could still abrade the word. Could scoop its sense:
could get there first. Could fail to recompense
literature for its gesture. That’s what the starling says
in idiomatic starling. So I compose
these lines while sitting by the window, hoping
inside and outside will coalesce.
I have a Grecian urn and a Roman nose
and am dressed in the rags of my party clothes.
I have a pan flute too, the better to entrance
my johnny-come-lately aviary. I would I were
thy bird, she said. A star-crossed girl.
The leaves the starling parted were a book’s.
The world through which I wend my way is made.
I stroke the animals of which the poets wrote,
I siphon from their shadows; I call them
introduced. Mine is the New World, all I’ve known:
I stuff the birds (thy bird) and pluck the fruit,
I gather their hairs for a little suit.