—two old women joined our train
at a crossroads above Trondsmyra
on New Year’s Day, everyone outside
early, making our way together
in the dark, shouting hellos
across thresholds along the trail,
our ritual of looking always
in two directions at once.
Whenever the old women paused
to strew sacks of breadcrumbs
saved for waxwings, we waited
until they caught up, then skied on
toward Nordseter. At trail's end, the birds
settled as a cloud into willows,
standing by as the women declared farvell,adø—their voices granite slabs
struck apart by hammers.
One took off her skis and stood
at the bus stop, waiting for the 14:30.
And tossing her hand, the other
signaled the waxwings,
who lifted as one and followed her
up the trail and all the way back
to Trondsmyra in the fog.
Les Enfants Isadora
Some bird we know by the name
left messages for us with its tail
and primaries, three-toe notations
to try and dance, coded into snow.
Where our friend launched and landed—
the short flights are a map to an afterworld
we dwell in now, whole bodies politic
flown to regions whose dialects
we don’t speak, wobbling about
in our heavy boots, featherless
layers of moth-eaten wool,
abashed and absurd, leaping maybe
an inch into the air if we leap at all.
David Axelrod is collaborating on a Letterpress and Book Arts program with Peter Koch and others at the University of Montana. His most recent collection of poems is Years Beyond the River.website