No more bird poems
after Berta García Faet
I want to tell you about birds in the world, how<
air moves like water and birds move like air,
and the birds, then, move therefore (and also) like fish.
I want to tell you how the arrangements
of feathers and scales are both aerodynamic,
that my leg hairs, when coasting
downhill on my bike, move into
such arrangements; I want to tell you our pattern
of breath, as it leaves
the body, follows a line
and that line follows the swirling patterns of creek water, which is a spiral jetty (oh, Smithson, I am with you), which is a corkscrew, and whenever I see swirling in the creek I imagine tiny birds coasting up n up n up all on repeat, we’re all on repeat, even the double helix that never meets near the hibernating ovary.
Some friendly birds clapped for my double-wide waistline.
Friendly birds make family of a foreign place. This is
a gift of luck. Some ovaries branch into soft spaces, and some are skinny boys in the Sunset quoting Titanic to one another. Some ovaries overwinter, bare branches, no song.
This is never a matter of luck, only a matter of matter.
Some leaves look like lips so I bring my bird feet, perch
between them, and wait. A little ovary goes a long wait.
If a bird shows up in a poem, this is good luck for
the bird. If a bird appears in the sky, that means the bird
alive, which is a phenomenon closer to coincidence
and not the same as good luck.
If a bird lands on a fence line and
drops a cherry into the yard,
this is a signal of friendship. It is not the same language
birds pass between trees. It is not the same as the trees’ quiet song, sifting cloud out of air.
Sometimes, like outside of a poem, no bird appears.
No bird is present, for instance, on the floor
of the stock exchange. No bird is present
on corporate jets. No bird helped revise U.S. tax law.
No bird advisors on the board at Transocean or BP.
No bird in the round room interviewing FBI officials.
The bird was never a neoliberal subject.
No bird highlights diversity work in the university.
No bird has been appointed to Dean,
no bird in human resources.
No birdie settles student accounts.
No bird bird no brid no brrrrr bird, no bird.
I want some physical match to my hurry-bird.
If some birds arrived in this poem,
a chorus of birds whose bones jut out of their heads,
they would be western jackdaws with their
turning their heads in unison,
ash grey glinting off their crowns.
They would settle along the back fence line.
I would look up. They would look down.
Building bird family is a study in eye contact.
Laura Wetherington is a U.S. poet based in the Netherlands. She has two forthcoming books: Parallel Resting Places, chosen by Peter Gizzi for the 2020 New Measure Prize, and Nothing but Objects, a collaboration with the poet Curtis Emery. Her first book, A Map Predetermined and Chance (Fence Books), was selected by C.S. Giscombe for the National Poetry Series. Laura works as the poetry editor for Baobab Press and teaches creative writing at Amsterdam University College and in Sierra Nevada University’s MFA program.