The Morning Birds
after W.S. Merwin
Sometime before the sky broke
at the end of summer you left our bed
dead birds in the fountain
decaying in the copper basin
a soft cough of feathers and the unraveling
of the sun and of the day and of days
where everyone I didn’t recognize returned home again
and the backyard doves were startled
into flight and the trees lived on forever
I closed the dark eyes shut
in this moment honoring sunlight
impossible to hear their newfound singing
Slipping under, I remember me –
a girl neglectful of the sky,
wearing red Mary Janes and
a full set of teeth. Now I walk
through shadows of tall trees, their clinquant
boughs gold and silvered crowned.
My breath warm on the pane of a glasswing
butterfly as I lean in to hear the heartbeat of
a wych elm, frisk the bark for a pig’s tooth
to replace the tender rogue in my jaw –
another gone before it is taken,
another taken before I am gone.
Half-awake in the quiet company of clouds,
I hold vigil for the new hollow in my head.
In this painless twilight the day’s hem loosens,
maroons my sky in reverie and loss.
This is not your memory,
Little Boy Blue.
Swaddled tightly –
at my breast.
you had fallen asleep
until you turned
the light went out
in each room
of my heart.
I loaded up the fridge
the day before the transformer blew. The whole neighborhood lost electricity for three days. Temperatures swelled to triple digits, broke records. No wind. No conditioned air. My husband drove to nine stores before he found bags of ice. We filled the coolers but held little hope for the chicken breasts and dairy. We ate small bowls of blackberries, pear slices, handfuls of granola – drank pitchers of filtered water. Our two young sons ran laughing through the sprinklers then collapsed on the cushioned chaise lounge. We flashed lights down the hallway cave to our dens, slept naked on top of the sheets. On the second evening, well past midnight, I read by candlelight while my family slept. I finished the book that had been on my nightstand all summer, blew out the candle and in the morning found two drops of dark purple wax on the hardwood floor. The wax came off with a scratch from my thumbnail, but the color had birthmarked the light wood.
I found some cleaner and began to rub out the aubergine stains. Then stopped.
Kelly Cressio-Moeller has new work forthcoming in Cultural Weekly, Spillway, and Thrush Poetry Journal. Her work has also appeared in Boxcar Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Crab Orchard Review, Rattle, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere, as well as the anthology, First Water: Best of Pirene’s Fountain, and in Diane Lockward’s book, The Crafty Poet. She shares her fully-caffeinated life with her tall husband, two ever-growing sons, and their immortal basset hound in Northern California.