by Jennifer Chang
Owl-night, moon-gone, my wherewithal
is yellow pine. Is trillium and unfurled frond.
Clouds,—a cantilever of the trees, vapor-
plied architecture of the ephemeral—teach me
the apparition-life, what tunes the branches’
nocturne off-key: how do bodies turn into
song? Glow of dust and sandstone light, stars
dropped like pebbles, like crumbs, heretofore
a fairy tale trail. Barn owl, secretive and out-
spoken, you spout two minds, a hiding place
and a traffic sign. What’s this absence
you speak of? Nonsense-yakking lost soul,
lost soul, the self-question that grows—
Who what?—odd and old.
Build me up into the fog, into brevity
made beautiful, the wet-dressed disaster
that’s rain, that’s the storm-threat of forest fire.
I want to be ornate and ornery. More than
a vapor-child, a night’s ward like the white
monkshood tucking under its bud, too shameful
to flower. I am hearing it: spring’s first wild melt,
each drop trickling into the next, a minor
chord. So snow’s gone, so how can I be
ice dissolving in water?
Cloud me, sparrowing and bark-loose,
each season’s dark ambition: a patient pattern
gone. O, I am hearing it: this say-nothing
noise, how the world’s clamor-born and
sorrowful, tricked for loss, the silent purpling
of crocuses mouthing back at the owl:
I will not, and soon—