Sunday Poem

Not the Right Place
The redpolls this March are far south where they shouldn't be.
tearing apart dried flower stalks for the hidden seeds,
the dream of spring they trust will bring them home.
Here and now, a first spring spider is falling
past me, towards anywhere on the wind which turns out
to be from a tulip poplar, the kind pioneers
would hollow ou for canoes to carry them everywhere
and towards a moss pool where mosquitos will later
emerge from rafts of eggs.
…………………………………………The trouble is, we dream
everything happens where are aren't. That's what the shotgun
dents in the roadsigns leading nowhere tell me.
That's what the two young boys caught last night
on the school fire escape would say, trying
to make love to each other, scared by their lonliness.
My grandmother, whenever a relative would die,
hung out a set of clothes for the deceased to claim
or not, as custom had it, watched them shift in
the windy branches.
…………………………..Bernie, there's no telling
at what cost all this has come. I have let
these images of flowers, spiders, legends intrude
because I was afraid, because I have discovered, hearing
again the crazy rattle of the redpoll, that shy
bird so easy to forget, so trusting it could be
kept, that for thirty years I had pretended you had moved,
not died, but the boy in that undersized casket
was you, which I still hope to deny, saying you are
here, a simple matter of place after all, as if
I could hang these hopes out for you to fill.

by Ruchard Jackson
from Worlds Apart
University of Alabama Press, 1987