Degrees of Orange
Night-clouds rest on the ground.
Dirt beneath a girl's nails and pillow,
farmed flocks awaken. Chickens already
pointing towards the distant dreamy rain:
some shadows move.
The city wiggles with burning litter,
the luminous lives of snails. The fly
bathes herself on your ankle. A girl
like a stone in the dry river. It is hard
to move places in the summer.
On Lemon street, the neighbor and her family
hold candles around the pool. The sky goes
gray in patches. The apartment's broken
blinds split the body of a woman, her large
arms surround the spindle-girl. A mother
goes backwards into the pool, her back
the sign-language arc for "sunset." Hair like black
feathers shredding in water.
The cockatiel, parakeet, parrot,
barn owl who saved my little life: he seemed
happy. Yellow circles in his eyes.
Kissing to see me, now think
finally of something else.
The Last Measures of Bird
The Red-headed Woodpecker sees
in periphery, a woman's finger point him out, just before Thanksgiving, to her mother.
In delicate bobs around a bordered yard, from White Ash to flagpole,
he is alone, offered and unchosen.
We study how he saves
his seeds in bark between sharp squawks. The sound of a little girl's muted
kazoo, the sound of the bark methodically chipped into. Scarred bark,
my hometown wrapped in drought:
years, it seems, of brownness
has flattened this ground to paper. And the matted grass sleeps like ashes.
And when the bird leaves our feet
trace their wrinkled way back to the kitchen. One set of footprints--weak impressions
like tracing pages of various birds. What makes anything a gift, I can't say.
Or out of whose chest
I broke free in my dream:
quiet hatch from a childhood bed, and cotton blossom yellowing. Bursting into stars.
Who can say if is it possible to at once be grateful and ask for more?
Traveling back North on the 91 to Northampton, my hands at ten and two like my mother
taught me, I think that this North
has addicted me to hawks.
Even after I see three just like this, I say out loud, like a child, I want another. A Red-tail
puffed up by the late autumn mist settles on his sogged-down bony bough--
a stern scene, as though there'll be a test. And concentrating on talons I am blurred
by how they crush a cottontail while he flies. To see,
I swerve my neck. Branch
off the road. My little car, jack-knifed. Cutting into traffic. The quick black slice
of a bird's eye, launching one million sparkling little wants.
Caroline Klocksiem's poems most recently appear in Hotel Amerika, The Drunken Boat, and Shampoo. She co-edits poetry for the online journal 42opus.
"All-time best porch accessory: swing. People you can always count on to have the best porches ever: Southern Grandmas (mine in particular). Best porch activities: cards, listening to baseball games, and sipping mint juleps. Current porch: West-facing. Shared with a couple of small green lizards, a variety of birds, and several plants. Weirdest porch moment: watching my neighbor's car get stolen."