Monday, June 11, 2012

There Is the Wingspan

There Is the Wingspan

Kill no birds
with sixty stones,
with one thousand stones.

How is a bird
an inconvenience.
Their songs, that are

not about us.
Are fallen feathers
troubling. Why do we

take them home,
then, collect them
like sand from beaches

we have been to,
dirt, rocks, seashells,
photographs of water.

In no eulogy
has it been said:
she was efficient,

marvelously efficient
It is not useful
to remember

how a person made
you feel, or how
they looked,

but that is
what we keep
of them, how

she struggled with
the umbrella that day,
laughing, how he

hummed with the
headphones on,
never noticing.

The title from this poem is taken from a line in the James Tate poem, "The Eagle Exterminating Company."


  1. I thought about this sentiment a lot this weekend, actually. We were visiting a nature reserve (the type of place that's heavy on the birding), and I was reminded of an old neighbor who shot a mockingbird with a bb gun. Maybe I'll print out your poem and place it on his doorstep.

  2. I like how you ended this poem. It left me wondering... hmmm, is there more to this... or not. So I read and re-read and I still don't know about that part but I liked it more and more with each reading. Well done.

  3. That artwork is compelling. I can understand how it inspired you.

    Your well-written poem has a depth that merits more than a single reading.

  4. Tate's poem I take it is about the urge to destroy the soul, and the impossibility of doing so ("Exterminating the eagles is now all but impossible / for the house would fall down without them"). Yours goes deeper into this urge, it's for the sake of efficiency (the collective), but it is always the small eccentricities the soul manifests that, in the end, immortalize (the individual). The feather hovers in between, symbolizing anything you want, from another useless token of impermanent waste in a mind endlessly hungry and too conscious of its own defectiveness, to the totem that aligns one with spirit through an empty heart of love with doors ajar.

  5. Good noon Hannah- Lovely to read you again, and funny you should say. Last week Augustus swallowed a tiny bird feather, pigeon that flew above his head, and the feather got into his nose I think...he was hacking for three days : ) You also reminded me of when a group of mocking birds had chosen a tree by my apartment and would make incredible noises all night..I used to grab a stick and beat on the tree at midnight...

    How do we remember a person? By how they made us feel..that is the only way that it works for me.

    Thank you...

  6. All I know is that this poem was good.

  7. I really love that sculpture.

    Now I'm worry that someone will describe me as "marvelously efficient" in a eulogy.

    It is true that the things we remember about people are not useful.

  8. I love the flow in this and the change in subject matter. I collect fallen feathers sometimes, because they're beautiful...


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