10.4 (Summer 2006)
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Maureen AlsopListen


Apparition Wren

The trill, quivering as the sun crosses
over the half-stretched sound, comes
to quiet now. It’s what you’ve always been:
a little bird shifting past. The felled fruit
lies ripe & wasted in the cherry orchard
marking the place where a very old woman sensed
your nimble rise. She would not know
the careless stint of tilted wing. She kept loving you
as simply as you loved the expectant air. Darkness
gathers in the grass—she rests on her knees
pronouncing your imprint as prayer,
and discovers late your voice
of stone. She sees it is better now,
your dappled song grown
shameless & empty inside the mouth.


Dovecote Ephemera

Along the gold hem of her dress, edges
where the silk frayed, a flock of birds swung—

It was a distance
she long carried out of gladness,
a nothingness—the illimitable horizon. Soon

the buzz on the radio boomed with a smattering
of tiny voices. A flap of wing lifted
in her throat. A spasm emptied her name into the forecast,

and memory assigned speechlessness
to grief. Threadbare birds

fell away into the hills—as untouchable
as grace. She swayed on the stoop
like the delicate tracing of eyes

over paper scraps. Stepping forth, she heard a flurry
of calm and, at last, a spill of birds—no longer trapped
by the borrowed vacancy of her body.


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