This time last winter I abandoned you
or, rather, left you in the hands of God
and college kids demolishing my house
while I was teaching poetry abroad.
My last day home you came to feed at dusk,
your habit, bird of shadows, too exposed
in undiluted sunlight, malformed wing
draped rakishly as a dandy's cloak.
And though, back home again, I look for you,
I know deep down that was the final time.
What else was I to do? Not go? Take you?
To cage a songbird is a federal crime.
The yard is full of birds whose wings are whole,
but I can't recognize a single soul.
The Killing Field
A tell-tale pile of feathers in the yard
this morning, tip-off to a murder scene:
as if some nut had slit a pillowcase
or down ski parka bought from L. L. Bean.
Detective work reveals the down is gray,
the longer feathers barred in gray and white,
which means the victim was a mockingbird,
the only bird that likes to sing at night;
like yelling "Here I am!" to thugs with guns.
By noon the criminal has been ID'd,
the tom I feed too full to come around
for day-old chow my two cats didn't eat.
Can't read the paper-nothing but the war,
Or hold back moral judgment anymore.
They say two photons fired through a slit
stay paired together to the end of time;
if one is polarized to change its spin,
the other does a U-turn on a dime,
although they fly apart at speeds of light
and never cross each other's paths again,
like us, a couple in the seventies,
divorced for over twenty years since then.
Tonight a Red Sox batter homered twice
to beat the Yankees in their playoff match,
and, sure as I was born in Boston, when
that second ball deflected off the bat,
I knew your thoughts were flying back to me,
though your location was a mystery.
As if a friend you used to see a lot
but haven't, lately, stops you on the street,
and right away you note the baseball cap,
the skeleton that has begun to peek
through facial features, and you hear about
the son or daughter in from out of town,
the chemo up in Shreveport twice a week,
how hard it is to keep a milkshake down,
The City Care Forgot (and then recalled)
comes into focus from your moving car,
familiar houses with their doors kicked in
and death tolls sprayed beneath blue FEMA tarps,
and though the specialists must have their say,
you see yourself it could go either way.
|Julie Kane teaches at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches,
Louisiana. Her second full-length poetry collection, Rhythm & Booze
(University of Illinois Press, 2003) was selected by Maxine Kumin as a winner in
the National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the 2005 Poets’ Prize.
Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as The Southern
Review, The Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, Verse Daily, Feminist Studies,
Light Quarterly, and The Formalist, as well as in various
anthologies. Recent honors include a Fulbright Scholarship in creative writing and a Pushcart Prize nomination.
| Melissa Balmain
Lorna Knowles Blake
Therese Chabot creates delicate, ephemeral installations – carpets, dresses and crowns – using flower petals and natural materials to speak of the stages of life and the paths we are given to choose from.|