Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BIRDS, by CLARENCE MAJOR

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BIRDS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It's a summertime night

It's a summertime night
with hazel branches
drunk with yellow.
With the window open,
he's in bed after washing
his hands to hold
the precious book.
He closes his eyes
dreaming of migrating birds,
specks on the sky.
The room is charcoal gray.
Nice background
for his copper hands.
On the page the bird lands
on a fragile branch,
wings vibrate.
She's in bed too watching
him turning pages.
She shivers like a bird.
They're in their larval states,
suspended in animation.
After all
they are just-married.
Still mysterious to each other.
Now she throws the blue quilt back
his bright red underwings,
his nature. She too flashes
bright red under her wings.
The branch gives
beneath the bird's weight
as it touches down.
They seem among
late-blooming flowers.
Both watch for bats, spats, flaws.
This may be their life
of embracing
every other minute
while nesting deep
as in the crevice of a rock.
They sleep where no moth
will hibernate. Birds know
which branches will hold
their weight. As she
watches him read
she's drawn toward her own
wish, which is to rise
up and fly out of bed,
flapping her wings quietly,
until she is far away,
on her own, which is to say,
beyond the mystery
that surrounds the bedroom
and the bed where they sit.
As he turns the pages,
she counts each bird
that takes off from them,
dripping ink, as they go
out the window
into the summer night.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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