The bird and the hour
After Billy Collins “Litany”
We are the bird and the hour, the session
and the fee. We know we are the commute
and the dream, but we are also the trees in Central Park
and the eyes of the feral girl.
We are even the boiled-wool blanket
covering her shoulders. We are the bird
in flight, the bird on its perch; we might even be the hummingbird
tuning its magic stillness, treading air, but let’s be clear:
we are not the birds in formation flying south or north.
We have never been a chapter in a textbook
or even a case study in a handout. We could be an out-of-print
book found at a street sale but probably not the unframed
print in a bin farther down that same street.
I like to think of us as the fire between the logs, the grain
in the wood, and the way we don’t hear a squeak
in the newly repaired gate. We can be the tapered fingers
of the unusually tall Japanese pastry chef, the open mouths
of the choir, the boarding pass for the flight home.
Can we be pastries on display in the bakery window
and the man who stops to admire them?
Okay, I know, let’s be the children who watch the man
looking at the pastries as he decides, Not today,
and walks on carrying his closed umbrella.
- Elizabeth Kandall, PhD, is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice. She is a student of Zen Buddhism at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. She is enrolled in a low-residency MFA in poetry from the Queens University program in creative writing, and she serves on the board of directors at Poets House.
- Email: email@example.com
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