Perfection — A Poem

Hastening

after that slender snippet

of dried grass

that slipped from

his grasp,

he tumbles from

the roof’s spine,

scrabbles over shingles

giving chase —

and it eludes,

that straw-pale length,

so perfect,

so well suited to

his task,

that he persists

and dives,

frantically parting

damp air

on drawn wings

till both settle

upon green-fringed

soil.

Clutched in

bent-wire claw,

he soars to the eaves

to stuff it in

amongst a mass of

similar

lengths and bits —

that perfect piece.

Silly sparrow.

Such display over one

blade so like

another.

But —

do we,

ourselves,

not do

the very same?

— C.Birde, 3/16

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“The Perfect Blade” — C.Birde, 3/16

Steamed Over Nothing — A Dream

What can I do? She is terrified, convinced it’s outside, lurking, lying in wait. Neither of us will rest until her fears are mollified. Hiding my annoyance, I grab the electric tea-kettle and prepare to leave the little house, to venture outside into the dewy dark and show her, prove to her there is nothing there.

The door thumps shut in its frame behind us, and she clings to me, fingers digging through my shirt. I’ll wear the mark of her nails — scarlet crescents incised into the flesh of my right arm, right shoulder. Lighting our way, the tea-kettle gleams softly — a pale beacon, full of freshly boiled water. Steam escapes its wedge of spout in diffuse, curling trails.

A dirt path leads away from the house, winds through clots of damp grass. We follow its unravelling toward a stone structure that thrusts up from a small hillock ahead. Drawing nearer, the structure slowly resolves into a crypt.  A heavy, teal green door is pressed into its recessed face, and pale moonlight limns worn stonework. A dark twist of tree mimics the bent, low, wrought-iron fence encircling the crypt. The fence’s gate leans open on creaking, rusted hinges.

Suddenly, my companion shrieks, tugs at me to halt our forward advance. Emphatically, frantically, she points. Heart racing, I follow the luminous sweep of her arm and see…nothing. Again, her shriek threatens to deafen, and her arm describes a wild arc, pointing. I swing the electric tea-kettle and release a spume of steam and scalding water at…nothing. Jabbing her finger at darkness, this way and that, she continues shrieking, all the while pulling me backward, back toward the little house.

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“Chasing Ghosts” — C.Birde, 3/16

 

Dog Tail — A Poem

There was a little dog

who had a curl of tail

right at the base of her spine.

And when she was bad

she was naughty as could be

But when she was good, she was just fine.

 

She enjoyed a good long walk —

up the mountain, round the block —

where’ere her pointed paws might wander.

And when she had found

some curiosity,

that curl of tail would still, that she might ponder.

 

All chores she would attend

in unrelenting fashion —

from window, porch and door and garden.

But come evening’s fall,

darkness pressed to every pane,

The nearest lap she’d seek to curl that tail in.

 

–C.Birde

(With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

 

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“Dog Tail” — C.Birde

 

 

Sticking One’s Neck Out — A Dream

Both ends of this large barn are open; huge wooden doors slid back along their tracks. Bright sunshine spills over the dusky interior in sharp contrast. Bales of hay are stacked six-feet high in one corner, and atop them sits a young man. Shoulders curved, he slouches against the barn wall, draped in shadow. Bright white earbud cords snake up beneath the hair screening his face. Everything about him is designed to ward off approach. I immediately set feet in his direction.

As I thread my way through knots of stablehands, three men in dark suits, fedoras, and sunglasses also enter the barn. They stare pointedly in the boy’s direction. The boy ignores them; the men look away, expressionless. They move past me like a slice of nightfall.

“Am I too late?” I’m breathless with anticipation once I’ve reached the corner.

With a slight shake of his head, the boy indicates there’s still time. He does not look at me, does not remove attention from the device in his hands. But, elated, I am unconcerned with manners and rush outside. Squinting against the light, I find the corral to the left. Easily, quickly I climb the six-foot fence, balance on the fence top. Contained within the corral below, is a small herd of horses. They move like fish, navigating the interior space and each other’s bodies in circling, eddying patterns.

Above the corral, suspended from thick cables are numerous large, clear tubes. Each must be three feet in length, and at their bases are four flat, brightly-colored plastic paddles — red, blue, yellow, green. I drop into a crouch on the fence top, leap to catch hold of one of the tubes. The cable is grooved beneath my hands and cool to the touch. Swinging gently from my perch above the milling horses, I depress one of the paddles with my foot — oats and grain pour out in a yellow stream. Horses gather below me to eat, shouldering each other aside. Before my momentum can slow, I leap to another tube, grip its cable, dispense more food. Again and again, I repeat this until I have made a circuit about the corral and all the horses are contentedly eating.

Except…that one… From this lofty height, I see a scruffy brown and white pinto edging toward me along the corral’s perimeter. Its extraordinarily long neck is thrust out and slung low over the ground. It bares large yellow teeth, eyes me balefully. In order to keep out of reach, I must continue leaping from one dispenser to another. And the horse, with grim intent, is determined to keep me from reaching the fence and climbing out to safety.

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“Sticking One’s Neck Out” — C.Birde, 3/16

Quietude — A Poem

Quiet,

in the woods today  —

but for vermillion rush of Maples’ budding,

and wind scraping Autumn from pale Beech leaves,

and reverberating chorus of Spring Peepers’ awakening,

and whisk of garter snake slipping past pond’s lips,

and chipmunk calling the season to order,

and rain of woodpecker’s laughter.

All quiet,

in the woods today —

but for my intruding step,

heartbeat,

breath.

— C.Birde

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“Tourne Pond” — C.Birde, 3/16