Ode to the Impossible

By: Matthew T. Birdsall

A cerulean warbler scrambled up and down the shaggy spine
of an elderly bitternut hickory whose reach darkens half of my backyard
and I tried to follow it, but it became impossible as the bird
vanished and appeared in the shadows numberless—
the futility of finding the bird again sharpened my focus
because I’ve always longed to experience the impossible

because looking for the impossible in blotters of LSD during high school classes
and staring out the window at the animated, neon leaves on oak trees
didn’t just make me look at leaves differently, it made me want
to whisper tales of anarchy in the waxy ears of greedy marketing majors,
to digitally protest the World Bank, to distribute loose doobies at Christian chemo clinics,
to dole out dollops of ranch dressing at the homeless shelter on Saturdays,
to slide in and out of varied segments of society looking for pieces of my dull brain

searching for winding, mossy ways to get into the Hegelian principle
far enough to see the overarching irony of oppositions and how
they are the mortar between the bricks of what I really want
to say since mostly my truth is tucked into an ellipsis
holding together fast-flying flippant phrases,

my focus fled when a red-shouldered hawk alighted
on an adjacent ash tree and I lost the warbler entirely,
but I still readied myself for another round of watching
the viewless fringe of fantasy and chasing shadows I imagined
only Keats and I could see, because O, John, I want to hold on
to my trippy teenage faith that there is fractally-hued life
beyond interpretation, to believe in full-throated ease
and sunburnt mirth, that I’m awake and above ground,
which is only possible until it isn’t.

Matthew T. Birdsall’s first book of poems, The Long and Short of It, was re- cently released by Alabaster Leaves Press. He has been published in various lit- erary journals and magazines. Birdsall works in educational publishing, and he’s the Managing Editor of the Mock Turtle Zine in Dayton, Ohio. He enjoys all things creative, spending time with his wife and 7-year-old, and well-planned, spontaneous adventures.

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