Bird Fallen Into Torpor

Itself a blur, scalloped downstroke flower

to flower, even bright red paper ones

strung for a party.  Dipping its needle

into sticky calyx, vial of offering.

In clear certain day small birds streak the air,

tilting figure eights, wing beat, heart beat—

enfolding darkness closes white petals.

Beyond exhaustion, those birds fluff up,

not reeling, no more sputter song, lost in

bird lethe, iridescent gorget

absorbs night . . . bird figure caught,

dreaming of motion.

Against the dark,

gatherers appear, draped from head to toe

except for hands free to pluck the small bird.

In the time of the overripe downward

curve of the Greco-Roman world, the most

delicate, tasty pies of hummingbird

tongues are served.  Old men offer these to young

golden ones.  Slave girls perform the night harvest,

crimping the edge of the crust with slim white

fingers.  Even the hare-lipped one, crouching

with hunger, would not be found with bird meat

between her teeth.  They excise the tendril

of bird breath, assemblage is slow.  Under 

a low stone portal, drag bloody drop cloth

past the garden into an open field. 

Her forearm seared by heat (curly nimbus!)

she torches the pile.  Consumed flesh fills the air.

They wait until the plume of smoke leaves

nothing but clean ash.

                            Give us the torpor

of small birds, utterly spent by ceaseless

plying of wings.  A day of rest, flowers

of forgetfulness.


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