THE WOODPECKER

One leg of the dock is carried off
by an unprecedented tide

free-standing now, pronounces
each syllable fluttering at the darkness’ edge

to stanch the grief of one image
is to create another in close proximity

to convey Matterhorn, as it is now
confined to the lines of this poem

to crawl into the shape of the word as a wolf would
& wear the lucky pants & the four steep faces

this is an example of how
trepidation becomes a verb

how fluid becomes rock
& also a tourist attraction

[the mountain loves me this I know,
because the wikipedia entry told me so]

the last peak to be conquered
marked the end of the golden age of alpinism

and The Field Guide to Poetry
said nothing would grow in this type of soil.

No matter.  The present concocts its own event.
Not wakefulness –

but the tinny whistle’s tinny sheen
same way a figure is ascribed to inspiration

or not wanting to finish the book
because it’s too good.  Dare I say anything

for fear it will dismantle the raw stump of cognition
yet pieces unsaid still cloy on the tongue

& hinge apart the forever gears, the tender gills
we watch so closely

to wring from the space held by the “w” a different meaning
otherwise there will be bells that double-up & toll

coaxed by what?  A faint trill in the sunk notion
where dawn climbs 14 over-wrought lines to some other door

invited to dance by the stucco contour
brought forth by voices arriving

first in the air & then in the ear, a chitter
among treetops

the palpable mote carved between doggerel
& sentiment.  There was a bird on nearly every branch.

How a flock is the sum of all parts.  How a flock has
an uncanny resemblance to the days that make up a month

made moot by a more forceful lapse, that other season –
the arrival of breath, then no breath at all.

You heeded the stop sign
although the street was named Haste & dead ends

at the venn diagram that diagrams your life’s work
where the 3 circles converge, as your fingers grow bluer

in the purple part where library & archive & apnea overlap
memory disturbs its own fickle tide.  These were cues.  Not cries.

Yet inseparable, as in the darkness or desert
where suburbs are all one tumble of cool swath continuously

before the advent of hedges
demarcates where your life ends & the Jones’ begin

the arrival of woodpecker
depicts something more fragile

a discernible shape to sound of this weather –
not in like a lion & out like a lamb.  But a cavity

for catching rhythm.

*

Catherine Meng is the author of the poetry collection Tonight’s the Night (Apostrophe Books, 2007).  She currently resides in Berkeley and works at a restaurant. Along with Lauren Levin and Jared Stanley she co-edits the poetry journal Mrs. Maybe.

Advertisements