Stepped on a dead bird had been stepped on unnoticed
many times, but this time
whatever clear fluid wicked up, through
to my skin, cold and greasy. Not much -
a nestling. Pink, naked, beak and feet,
Scraped it up from in front of the door
with a piece of paper, its mark
still on the deck,
and into the garbage. But noticed
a pale red stain that had been hidden
beneath its body that must have been
its whole life’s-blood.
I dreamed I had poked out my left eye
on the sharp edge of the shower curtain
and on the floor
a bloodied globe with a blue pupil for all the world
intact, but useless. And spent my sleep
testing my vision back and forth
blinking each eye coming to terms
with my new affliction.
Fell from the nest
found by the possum or the neighbor’s cat
and left here. From the other side of
the garden, where my wife has hung
a feeder full of seeds from a pine bough,
making that space the main hangout
for the neighborhood flyers, doves to sparrows,
and a better prowl
along the fence behind it
for whatever felines. Who
are we feeding
in this wild garden, the small birds
eating their seeds at the feeder
and diving to the tilled ground for insects.
Between us the scattered petunias and green peppers.
So let me tell you about my garden.
Attention sways, can’t fix
Every morning he goes to his garden
barefoot, for the cold pleasure. Each day the beans
are a little taller, the wind
has flattened them against the wire
just long enough for a tendril
to take hold
that the vine may climb
towards sunlight. All of this
as if by accident - as if untended: this row of
this of beets,
a vagrant clump of weeds, a pile of cuttings. After
it’s the ratty ends of things
he finds attractive. Little room
to cultivate a life
or a wife.
To accept one’s lot may be
to become a pillar of sorrow,
he thinks, but to be alone
is salt itself.