Here it comes now, at the last, the woodpecker.
It’s come from afar.
It’s put its beak in above my heart.
Lie still it says.
Very still.
You loved the light, it says, of day.
You let it touch yr face all yr life & u never apologized, never felt
the distance in it—its howling—its gigantic
memory. You did not bury yr face in yr hands,
in the soil, in the grass with
gratitude. Something warbled.
Something flew past
in the air—a ravine quietly opened—water
deep in the earth narrowly
darted between rocks to
reach you. It was
wild. Your blood
took violent turns
left and right inside you—it gave you
Now it drops
its needle in deeper.
You are dying it says. Maybe today,
maybe another. Rain is starting somewhere,
it’s coming down fast it says,
I’m busy it says,
I’m attending to shorelines I’d like to save,
its body like a small golden trombone,
its crest like a fretboard day cld be thrumming—as they are
friends—we’re from the same
district, it explains, we share hometowns,
we don’t want to ruin your day but we’re
busy. The needle is turning in me again.
It wants to play music I imagine.
It too wants to live its brief glorious moment,
right to the end please,
as a civilization might also like if possible,
right to the end,
the very end.
Is there a right end I ask the bird
as it bows from the waist over me, as if starting
to dance while
digging in deeper,
widening and opening the hole
in my heart,
dust all over the floor from its work.
What would have given you enough, it asks,
working furiously,
I think its face is puffed from the effort,
is daylight coming back again
for me I
ask, as someone adjusts the pillow under my head,
is this the end of the second
movement or the third
it says to the air—
do you still have another round of day in you?—
as they pull a wet cloth
over my eyes,
to clean them out I hope to myself,
that I might see once more
a bit of the something that blues-in softly
after furious night.
Is that a nurse now pulling at my neck,
is that a window coming clear or is it blank wall,
are those letters in the air spelling something firm even
possibly urgent
or are they just the bits & pieces of shadow
the pre-dawn world tosses
flagrantly around,
wasting nothing but making it feel
as if there were plenty, overmuch, endless—oh way more than enough to be
wildly wasted. I lift up my palm
and stare at it
as per usual,
as I have done for a thousand years,
& this nightgown believe me it is not satin
although it too makes its little music.
February 2022 I’m singing you out,
if nothing else let me finish my song.
I’m not enough but I
could have been less.
When it is done it cranes up and stares.
Its crest is stupendous.
Its stare is righteous.
You must have come from somewhere far away I think
as I’ve never seen the likes of you
around me
What do you think your strength is for, it asks—
what do u think yr intelligence is.
Surgical clips blink.
They imitate day.
Was it my strength which was my mistake, I ask,
yr back is golden and red,
yr feathers stretch into every direction, they point,
u could be mosaic, yr gold seems chipped from
what used to be Venice,
Torcello specifically, in the old world,
yr legs are rolled tight
into their sacred scrolls—
oh you’re done with something—I’m not sure what,
you’re done with the warnings & the
yr notebook is overflowing with second
chances. Now it is
silent. It has moved up. It pecks at the bone
at the back of my neck.
I lift my arm up
to try to
No pity anywhere.
It’s then I hear it, the first call breaking
what used to be dawn.
Will you let me hear it?
What will you hear this time it asks.
What will you make of the chorus
when it comes.
What will you make.
You had a lifetime
to get this story,
to write its long and bitter poem.
You had thousands of hearts, one for each day
which let you into its cool new body,
for free,
What will you make.
I saw you turn away.
I watched you arrange and rearrange your minutes.
Lie back down now.
Be very still.
I do not know
if you will be entertained again.
And it left then.
There was no weeping, just feathers passing.
And I am here now listening for day
with all I’ve got.
What have I got.