DAVID B. PRATHER
★ ★ ★ ★
Image by Kent Pilcher
Everything begins here. And by here,
I mean this house, my house.
And to be precise, I mean the kitchen
where the morning sun rouses from the floor.
And to be perfectly honest, I mean the faucet
where cool drops of water leave calcium
residue on the spigot, where centuries pass,
and cave formations care nothing for time,
which comes from a distant source, a waterfall
on an earth-like planet scarred
with ancient wounds. And by wounds,
I mean every love you’ve ever lost.
And by lost, I mean a quiet room
that no one visits,
a stir of dust motes through fingers of light,
a clock on the wall stopped at 4:16,
regardless of what you think you know.
But to be clear, air thins
the further it reaches
toward the stars. To be understood,
we should walk out of here, walk
into the streets and into the fields.
We should reach up to the heavens,
And by heavens, I mean home.
JOURNAL ENTRY: THOSE WHO STAY BEHIND
Finally, a phoebe shows up
on my backyard fence. With a name
like that, I imagine veils
and silk feathers, lustrous as mother-
of-pearl. The second
breeding season is over, two clutches,
sixteen days to hatchlings,
sixteen more to fledge. Dun, yes,
that’s a good word
for her. Dun. I don’t know what
makes me think this bird
is female. Possibly a newly discovered
a wild precision for catching insects
mid-flight. There’s a look
about this bird I attribute to my mother.
Her song I attribute to
a young woman transformed by an
unruly god. Some of
those gods are here now. I’ve been
trying to discourage them
gathering near the spearmint at the end
of my driveway.
They wait for me to come home every
night. Above us,
a turkey vulture skims the sky, which
I’ve always thought
meant death was near. But, today,
flight is simply
an expression of joy, tempting the pallid
clouds to reach down,
join the exaltation. When my parents
divorced, my mother
became a different person, which made me
different, too. Migration
will begin soon, but some birds will remain,
survive on whatever gets
left behind. I’ve left behind so much.
I know there’s something
supernatural hiding among the unripe apples,
and maybe that’s why
the phoebe is here. Soon, the world will
be left to cardinal,
jay, and crow. Soon, even without leaves,
trees will lean
into the sun, nostalgic, unsettled.
David B. Prather is the author of WE WERE BIRDS, his first collection of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, The Literary Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, and several others. He studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.