11.3 (Spring 2007)   The 2River View  

Caroline ManringListen


Earth Stood Hard as Iron

In the ancient folds of the gut
That haven’t given in to the pedantry
Of compassion and fine cheeses

Chill can quicken us, deer
Just past the arrow.
The way one enters a
Cathedral, exiting the known.

Maybe I could move so,
Take up the shovel.

But I voted willy-nilly
As withdrawing from a burn
For Louis to do it, to end the cat,
The half-eaten
And suffering thing.


Four Ounces

Nothing’s timorous. The snaps
Of sticks in these woods, how
Everything’s losing moisture.

A house sparrow’s toe in winter the length
Of a fingernail moon
Can’t discern shades of subzero

Among a plastic, a wood, and a metal perch.
How do we know this? What I can’t feel often
Follows me into my lungs.

Assume when you’re deciding which
Species to study it’s smarter
Than you. That’s ok: failure is the only way

To survive. If for example they’d
Discovered, after all, the greater secret
Among Auburn’s million crows, why they

Congregate night after night, night-on-night,
Where that concurrence was signed and in what
Four-toed ink—maybe a round robin

Kilometers across—well then
The victorious would
Bear the machinery of that decoding which

Has to weigh at least four ounces
—Or as much as ten chickadees—extra, beyond
The weight of the allotted songbirds, the songs

We get to have. And all you have to do
Is ask someone who’s carried something
For a weakened comrade, even a tiny something

A long way to find out
Nothing’s timorous. The snaps
Of sticks in these woods.


Oh Tercel, Show Me Pigeonterror, How to Open Buttons with my Mouth

…and peregrine stooped to the lure
and was caught in a bramble-bush. (medieval Spanish lyric)

Imped and banded
In bells and a feather-plumed hood—
All atop the buses that are always
Gone to bed now, the lanner
Is loved best for eased and trimming

There is no suture so large for
A job like repairing London after
A gyrfalcon bated at her keeper’s
Doe-leather wrist. In construction,
A theory to navigate mistemper in brindle.

I’ve purchased a bird launcher.
Hunting weight will vary, I chart down.
An eyass in the eyrie cannot take all the North
American upland birds and waterfowl,
you say, passing.
In the sunset you counter saker with shaheen.

I trod on a needle once. It was no perch. The eye
Was blunter than a man’s thread. Flayed
Less, stayed longer. I am most often busy
Imping chairs in corners. I am in a chair now
I have imped, expecting what I am expecting.

When a bird reels in from Puget lowlands
It enters low. The bird is huge then,
Drops like thought boulder, hiccups

Looping time for its landing. Darning
Offhand any present love to wool footwear
Away in vestibules.




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