The Mountain Chickadee
Almost never alone, they enter the tree, adept
at shadows. Almost always in numbers, quick,
moving from bark to limb to cone to needle,
the thin splay of the branches wavering
beneath their bodies’, the small incessant force
magnified by stopping.
Such is the calculus of that meeting.
As when, in even the gentlest touch,
a tipping. As when a boy, immersed
in the atmosphere of his parents’ vacation,
drives 20 miles to meet a girl
and there, in the garden shed,
among the spades and shovels hung
from the beech colored studs
like flat-faced fetishes,
among the rusted clippers and cracked
engine blocks, the sweet smell of sawdust
and oil and dried leaves matted
in the wet corners where the earwigs
and beetles lounge in the slow damp
even that hand, laid so lightly on the back
of her freckled arm, or that finger
plucking that wet twist of hair
from a wetter mouth,
each swaying beneath the weight
of that meeting, each
with the suppleness that is
in the bending and the springing back,
wanting and not wanting
to be broken at impact.
Only later, after the brevity of certainties.
Among oblique and contrasting wants.
Among the slender, frosted glasses
darkened by ice and tea,
the neighbors playing Frisbee in the street
with their exuberant Labrador
who tears the twirling disc from the air,
then holds it hard in his happy teeth,
tugging and straining, for a moment,
against his master’s grip
yet wanting to relinquish it.
Only later, the changes.
The glasses emptied, splashed into the sink.
The sound of the faucet strolling.
How she rinses each white open cylinder
with a pale blue sponge
torn at the edges, her small hands swirling,
turning the brittle rims.
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Photo by lauren rushing /Flickr