The Last Songbird
We heard you once, here on earth,
                        singing from the icy turrets at dawn
            as the tarry wind whipped skyward & you swooped
from steeple to balcony to wire, over the hospital
                        where a pink glow pulsed in one window
            like the gummy heart of a mole
that burrows from the center of darkness,
                        from the center of stone & clay
            where your song went to perish, how in the end
it already sounded so distant, like the whispers
                        of a dying poet trapped inside a glass jar,
            or the sharp gasp of a ghost
bleeding through the radio in an apartment
                        where the ceiling kept coughing up
            a fine, stinging snow of asbestos
& we opened the door & heard an explosion
                        & we opened the door & the day
            was rubbing its forehead raw in the scalded parking lot
while someone’s mother wept, looking for her lost keys,
                        oh bird, what secrets we could confess
            if only you would hold still, but you keep punishing us
by darting into the gaping mouth of oblivion,
                        you keep punishing us, shy thing,
            by turning into a brittle leaf, or by leaping from the edge
of our sight into the cauldron of smoke roiling
                        beneath the bridge, punishing us in our dreams
            where you drift & pirouette in the makeshift air,
where you fly in reverse & sing so sweetly
                        that the batik of blood creeping
            over the sidewalk effervesces & recedes, flowing
backwards, & we wake remembering
                        our dead & the bright cafés
            & how we used to whistle a little crooked tune
over the sounds of the morning traffic, calling you
                        down to lift us off the ground a bit
            & bludgeon us with your song.
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