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Phoebe


1.

Can't you hear that?
You tilted your head, hand cupped
around your ear, eyes closed.
At such times your face
never registers disappointment.
A phoebe can't sing to you. Fact.
The little gray and black
flycatcher introduced itself
to the rest of the evening.
 

2.

I wonder if I'll ever love this house.
It isn't necessary that I do.
Someone used to. Someone
loved every brick. Our first summer here
we gave our daughter the best room.
I loved that summer;
the phoebe nested under the eaves
outside her window. We didn't paint
the west side till the young had fledged.
So many, and they all survived.
 

3.

What's beautiful?
One thing: the way a phoebe
hovers just above the grass:
Wings! The sun-glow through
spread feathers.
To care so little about gravity
that the Palisades, the vertical cliffs,
are "safe as houses."
 

4.

My father, when he was almost sixty,
began to plan his next life
which he filled with various jobs:
shrimp boat captain, staff writer
for the Dick Van Dyke Show,
hobo. In places like Chicago.
He'd never marry (no offense)
and he'd never join the Army.
He'd never own a house.
Maybe just a mud and feather
nest somewhere for a summer,
then south in the fall.
 

5.

Certain sounds
are lost to you now, after years
near a hammer drill,
a Milwaukee Sawz-all.
A phoebe calls: it's not necessary,
like supper and sleep.
It's a small tear in your shirt,
which you still wear.
It's not a whole life in two notes,
is it? It's not melodic.
It's information, a wind-blown claim,
a drop of rain that soon dries,
a gray stone giving its heat
to the evening.


Connie Wanek

upstreet

Number 9 - 2013


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