You cannot cover your eyes
from death in the northbound lane
as you speed south, not
what you expect
on this early commute.
Did the dead man plan
to dash before sunrise
into the path of the semi,
mad toreador before
a charging bull, daring danger
to hit him, hard? You see
police measuring, mapping
how far a black shoe
landed from point of impact,
cannot deny the imprint
of a body sheeted in two places
though you pass, trying
not to know that death
has no air brakes. Now
your life is twisted up
with his. This scene
has stained your sensible life.
Thwarted by design, a common grackle
on the back fence studies the bird feeder.
A wire grid prevents him and any bird
his size from getting at the seed.
He flies off with a croak. Goldfinches
and rosy house finches twitter and gorge.
The grackle returns, agent provocateur,
ready to note any change in the arrangement.
I sit in the shade, glad for the luxuries
of lawn chair and bird feeder, admiring
the goldfinch’s small beauty. Watch
grackles check the ground around for scraps.
At dusk they fly, furious, wings a blur between
sleek heads and triangular tails. I watch
until the unruly mob settles in a tree by the lake.
No pretense of glamour, grackle and I know
not every bird is a beauty. Some are loud
and hungry, uninvited to goldfinch parties.
Not too bad, though, as neighbors.
Karen Douglass’s books include Red Goddess Poems;
Bones in the Chimney (fiction); Green Rider, Thinking Horse
(non-fiction); and Sostenuto, (poems) and The Great Hunger
(poems), which is available from Plain View Press (2009).