Swan, Feather, Wing
Surrounded by disembodied trumpeting,
screeching, honking, a raucous buzzing
of migrating birds, I could barely see them
with my naked eye—the Artic tundra swans—
knotted over the marsh like strewn, soggy cotton balls,
blurry white lumps that might stretch their wings.
On the trail, I occasionally saw a feather on the ground,
tiny downy bits, vaned, occasionally a quill.
Do you ever notice feathers on the ground
and wonder how far they may have traveled?
The other day, I walked at low tide,
taking pictures of bedraggled specimens on the beach.
While I was sick, my mattress and couch
became my world. I saw feathers in memories
and dream. I raveled farther lying down
than I ever had able-bodied. I gazed out
my picture window at the birds perched
on the electric wires and thought about
all the places I have not been, assumed
that I might never travel again. I would close
my eyes and imagined Archangel Raphael’s wings
wrapped around me, and hoped
I could once again walk on a trail.
When I started to heal, the strangest
thing happened—I was standing on the beach,
not dizzy for the first time in months.
I felt invisible wings unfurl behind me,
felt them ruffle in the wind.
The day I went to see the tundra swans,
my wings stretched out, the unseen feathers
vibrating with the bugling calls of migrating birds.
Jean M. Kane
Doing the Mess Around (1)
The piano was a machine
with accessories after the fact.
Fishhooks and fishbones dating back eons in limestone
we can harvest in 42,000 years.
With accessories after the fact,
critical influences on her youth locked down
for a harvest of 42,000 years.
Bars have been erected to stop the glass from shattering.
The critical influences of her youth locked down
around the hardcore syntax of catastrophe,
bars erected to stop glass from shattering
disordered character in freakish ways.
She loops back to the route
of the piano, a machine
just like the daily grind, all nuts and bolts,
the melodies of fishhooks and fishbones
date back in limestone for 42,000 years.
We exist ungrammatically
like trees losing and leaves letting go. Is this not
the nature of grace? But neither is easy, losing
nor letting go. Time plays the trickiest game.
We are never prepared for it. I would have liked
to write about the patterns of grief, quiet like clouds
spent from raining, quiet in its knowing that it will
never have an alternate fate. Not knowing over which city
the wind will make it lose itself. But lately all my poems
have been about you, maybe this is how overcompensation
looks like—trying to make up for the long distance, lost time
the space in which you and I become we is untethered.
We, cannot be pinned to a latitude or longitude. We, are neither
here nor there. Does this mean you have let go and I am lost?
During the only winter we lived together,
we’d take our dog, Sebastian,
up to the flat roof of our top floor
Beacon Hill apartment for fresh air
when we didn’t want to walk him
down five flights to the street.
From the rooftop, I’d always pause to admire
the gold dome of the State House
at the bottom of the hill.
One night, while up there during a blizzard,
I was drawn to the weird light
reflecting off the dome,
the energy of the storm
swirling around the gold. Sensing Boston as a temporary knot
unraveling in a terrestrial whirl, I felt myself unravel with it,
yet the empty core of me held fast,
like the emptiness inside a snowflake.
Decidedly transient in those days,
I was gone before the thaw of spring;
my address, a temporary knot
unraveling in a biographical whirl.
I lost track of her and the dog,
although I later heard
they went separate ways, too.