Fear of the Bird Migration

By Darren Morris

Featured Art: Bird by Peter Takal

I was attempting
the old familiar,
the regular slog,
when I slipped into
missing her again,
the child my wife and I
would never have.
Sometimes she was
a girl and sometimes
a boy. But like heaven,
I held her there
in my mind, a place
of light where nothing
is done, but all is felt.
She was a multitude.
The great uncapturable
plasm of love. Often
she was only
a finch’s thin line across
a rice-paper sky, tearing
through all stations of life.
The way she might
have worn her hair,
or adorned the surprising aspect
of surface-self for appeal.
Or how the supremacy
of personality might emerge,
wriggling out as it does.
Or the first run-in with
terrible, terrible sexuality.

Then what wreckage and
achievement capitalism
might gouge into her hands
or brow. And later and later
still, to see her rejected or
criminalized or lauded
savage with success. All
cruelty and calculation I
would embrace. She, happy with
her father’s disappointments.
Even unreachable, sheared away,
ruthless with cunning,
or childless herself and
abandoned. Let me receive
the one exiled, nodding off
on a bus. The one afraid
to think of herself
as someone who mattered
in the lives of others.
My want of what would not become
claimed rights to all
the lost, even the child
fished out of a roadside pond.
I welcomed the blind, deaf,
autistic, those hating a part
of themselves, those born
unfit for human society.
I would be their society.
But I guessed and guessed
at what birds made of the sky.
I would have done anything
to bring those solitary orbiters
into form. To bring just one
of her into being, I made
myself create them all and
kissed their eyes. But she stayed
dark as a swirling flock at night,
an embodiment sweeping
across, as if desire itself
were migrating into hopeless
longing. And I hold to even
this—now that longing
is all she will ever be.

Darren Morris has contributed to American Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Missouri Review, Southern Review, New England Review, Best New Poets, and other journals. A recipient of a Virginia Commission for the Arts fellowship, he is currently the poetry editor for Parhelion Literary Magazine, based in Richmond, Virginia.

Originally published in NOR 15

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