I’m watching the Mulberry, waiting for the Oriole’s quick, graceful flash:
Each season, the last to arrive, the first to leave.
The Grackles mob in, the Robins squawk at each other, their fledglings,
A pale Viceroy flutters by the daylilies, then a Monarch.
I had a small, neat stack of your letters; standard white business envelopes,
tri-folded eight by elevens inside, filled with your harried scratch.
I can almost see your fingers lankly flicking that fast tattoo
of black twisted lace across each silken page.
A short stack like pancakes, creamy blintzes.
I wonder what you had meant to say to me,
in those notes from the coast.
I wanted to ask if you had ever smelled oranges,
or almonds in bloom, or heard the ocean’s shush.
But those letters I had kept tight in a crush of blue rubber bands;
they frayed, they flew away.
Last night I was thinking:
You, oh, you.
Like a comfort, as though your shoulder was a pillow for my sorrows.
But when I rested my head there,
the warmth of your torso blazed up like a furnace
and I felt the sudden fragility of your pulse
through the thin print of your shirt,
the unease of the machinery,
There, there he is . . .
but no sweet slurring whistle here.
He quickly picks the darkest berries
then flies away to the high trees by the creek,
the Cottonwoods, the White Elms
where the woven nests sway,
only there does he un-ply his shiny bill