selected for the 2018 SLS poetry award
there must be eggs in it.
if it fits the same
heron that stalks the pond,
the neighbors called him Charlie, only now he’s
high in a eucalyptus and crooks wing
to get branches,
fly back beak full.
so it’s Charlie the other kind.
Charlie has the sky
behind, she’s framed in it,
none of this clutter.
has her nest, three feet
across and woven well.
or from the air she sees
a messy floor of trees
and her shardy feathers
itch or her mind is
a cloudbank lit by sun
light and blank and
what do her babies know of it,
are her eyes blank too.
either way she’s still there, and there’s me, staring
at a human baby and a duck staring at the baby,
and the baby staring back and the duck gone, propelled,
either way I keep looking up, I check she’s still there, check if she notices me.
I said yesterday I find my fly unzipped three days out of five but it’s really more than that.
this blankness, I used to fall off my chair in third grade,
is the story I like to tell: falling into
myself or spiraling out, falling off the chair and mom never minded. she
probably thought it was just me,
maybe it wasn’t maybe it was maybe it was just me
leaving, maybe I was already eighty but it was like
dementia, the levels of inattention
and attention I scaled.
and to my sister who was there more,
my mother gave too much mind, and I escaped it.
I check for her
every few minutes:
from the pond her spread
is the only view of the tree
so I can forget that the tree
is in a median and surrounded
by black asphalt covered in her shit, fish bones,
brittle berry shells sucked up
weekly by leaf blowers.
but the ficus around the pond are like limbs I’ve never seen a tree
any more like a limb in my life, muscled and unhaired, gray.
here especially when they’re haircut so much, plants
look like other things here, scaped and scraped and
not the mess of Florida greenery I’d fade into, little green-limb,
stock-still, crawling, only one item
unseen, and dwindled into but here I’m stark
drawn on concrete, and staring at me.