The Lost Bird


         On the wings of a bird

         I would like to think,

         I sent word

         Flying south

         To you.

         Seeking connection

         No matter the cost, I construe

         It is too high

         For me to pay

         In the end

         I often say.

         And really,

         After I handed

         The envelope

         Carefully stamped and banded

         To a rural postal worker

         That beautiful summer morning

         The hills stretching on forever here

         Like they do

         Along the road to Ashfield,

         There then

         It was tossed into a tan ripped canvas bin

         Where it was afterward wheeled into a small

         Mail truck even my slight frame could still manage to drive

         Down route I-91

         To Springfield

         Where then it was for sure

         Packed into a monstrous machine

         And driven

         By more than my unrelenting

         Dreams of you

         My animal sensibilities or physical prehensility

         To handle a big wheeler

         Driving down the highway


         Yes, it was

         One of those

         Letters which by now I should know better

         Unbridled words laid to paper

         Herded along by nature

         And necessity

         Impelled by

         A familiar constant

         Animal gnawing

         As we rumble along

         Too often


         In the cab of life

         Never really knowing

         Who is doing the driving

         Or how we have ended up

         Where we are.

         Scaring more than me

         And maybe you

         Thundering along the highway

         Sending small mammals scurrying

         Away from waiting birds of prey,

         Red-tailed hawks along the way

         The ones we always see

         Sitting in the tree

         Lining the path south feathered

         Like beggars.

         I can only hope and pray

         The truck driving my letter to you

         Was not the cause

         Of the death of even one long-legged


         White-tailed deer.

         Grace most people only dream of,

         Long for, never obtain

         No matter how much they try.

         How many, each day,

         Lying sprawled out for all to see

         Hoof up on the bright stark pavement for only

         A few hours before the bodies

         Are quickly and quietly removed

         As if in a hush of secrecy

         Should the remaining still-feeling children cry.


         And so my letter moved onward

         Passing through Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport,

         New Rochelle and onto the Cross-Bronx

         Expressway where soon after

         It was unpacked by some city-weary

         Postal worker repetitively loading and unloading

         Boxes of mail onto some smelly urinated urban cargo dock.

         Thank God

         You live

         Before Manhattan

         And those awful tunnels I hate

That make the palms of any rational being sweat sitting in stalled traffic

With twenty-six story buildings on top of crumbling bridges Above blasted caverns stretching down into

         The earth below through

         Bedrock and tunnels where sandhogs labor with the

         Wiry mechanical guts and the covered-up shit

         Of the city reside.

         Before the oil refineries of the interstate and

         The last long-legged

         Great Blue Herons,


         In the foul smelling

         Muck of the New Jersey meadowlands

         Across the Hudson

         Alongside crap,

         Carp, catfish, turtles, muskrats, egrets

Ancient floating things one does not even want to try to imagine.

         Swamp land still by economy, mistake, impossibility

         Of anything else coexisting

         There in such a mix

         A travesty of what once was and

         Giving us traveling rural dwellers

         A short chance

         To catch our breath, slow the beating of our hearts,

         As the road continues on

         Further south

         Past flesh-bound millions living in ticky-tacky houses

         All much the same.


         As if in another time,

         I sent my words on the freeway south

         Not engaging pavement, petrol or petroleum

         But bound to the body

         Of my beloved passenger


         When the bird arrives

         The words are yours

         But please give my bird some grain,

         Cornmeal or the like

         Let her spend the night

         And in the next daylight

         Send her on her way back toward the northern hills,

         Where I am

         Aging brown eyes

         Watching, waiting, a Jew,

         The door ajar,

         To read what you might have

         Tucked under her adorned feathers.

© Susan Gesmer, The Lost Bird, 1997



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