* * *
Memory of a Bird
And so we rage quietly.
The coffee filter clutches
ache, the coarse taste of it.
Your glacial gait along
the halls of half a yesterday.
A thousand times: I am sorry
for ruin and want. Sorry
for the chipped paint
around our days.
And we rage. You swallow
sadness like a cough syrup.
And desire is smooth as the lighter
on the cigarette. Glass in the arteries.
We rage for days
without a quiver, or hum.
This winter wants to expose us.
Such is the life of pigeons
in rain gutters.
Once I stumbled upon a headless
bird on the sidewalk. The wind mourned
inside an empty trash can.
Mourned inside the outline of a bird.
Our million thoughts are small seeds.
We rage until flowers sprout
from our eyes. We rage
in colors. I am sorry for loss, sorry
for words that resemble love.
* * *
Bird of Stone
On my way to the sky, I dropped
the North Sea like a handkerchief.
From above, my home drew
a bird with cropped wings.
We were born with arms
like branches that carry little.
Regardless of our instructions,
the houses of first years were not
empty stations. I know this now, I know
so much since you disappeared
from my continents and oceans. Birds too
settle into the wind. Did you settle
into the wind? You believed in wheat
fields from a train window—the earth
on the run. Did you count all
the stations you wished to visit
but couldn’t stop? I returned to watch
the snow turn the landscape to a ghost,
returned to see your shadow stenciled
across the walls we called house,
* * *
On the night you shipped out the sky shook
its coat sleeves. A million gnats held
a congregation on the water’s surface. I searched
for the darkest night in the reeds, in the song
of a bird’s wings. Above me a satellite crawled
across constellations. Nobody knew
the stars like you did, as if they were crumbs
in your pocket, the longshoreman’s
hook on your back. By now your hands, one
hand at a time, grabbed the wind at its nape,
tossed it back into the waves. Time curled up
inside your head. And there I stuffed nights
into envelopes never meant to be sealed. My own
constellation sliced by a satellite, your instrument.
* * *
Monika Zobel is the author of An Instrument for Leaving, selected by Dorothea Lasky for the 2013 Slope Editions Book Prize and Das Innenfutter der Wörter (edition keiper, Graz, Austria, 2015). Her writing has appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Poetry Northwest, RHINO Poetry, Four Way Review, Redivider, DIAGRAM, Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, Guernica Magazine, Best New Poets 2010, as well as German and Austrian publications. A Fulbright and Djerassi Resident Artists Program alumna, she lives in Bremen, Germany.
featured photo by Claudia Grabowski