birds in winter
"what happened to you?" i asked you, and
there was a chorus of goingoinggone geese in the background behind my
thin sweater and your ski jacket.
"i've been changed," you said, and your voice was not
in your voice. not really.
"there were wolves in my dreams, and fevers on my face.
people were trying to help but i was trying to escape.
there were," you said, "Differences in the air."
i didn't like the capital D you affixed to those differences but i said nothing in hopes that you would forgive my hypocrisy and stop speaking in riddles; out of the corners of both eyes i noticed vaguely
that there were no sparrows.
"what happened to me?" you continued, as if trying to remember yourself.
"what happened to me? i was dragged
through a maze of wishing without wanting,
of speaking without talking; i was
pushed along down rural dirt roads until i understood small-mindedness
and rocks and hard places were closing in on me
so i dove out of the way and they collided. i've been,"
you said, reminding me of
leaf peepers and robins with your swingingbackandforth tone of voice,
"in the middle of explosions, and i've been blown
higher in the air than you would care to relate to.
what happened to me? see, i fell but first i flew south with the geese.
they go to the mississippi delta, you know.
they used to be things that simply go away and then come back but now they
there was a chickadee
on a branch exactly above my head. you warned me that it might
shit all over me but i didn't want to move from under it because it was one
of those moments that you just
don't disturb. "where've
you been?" i asked quietly without looking at your face,
my voice like a whisper that is on thin ice, tentatively trying the ground,
feeling out each step
towards your ears. "i've been stretched
thin across the land, and country folks are cursing me because i'm blocking out the sun and these days i curse myself with them— no," you corrected yourself, seeing the chickadee flutter nervously to a farther tree and my eyebrows quiver.
"—no. i guess i've been here, right here, all along."
but i think you knew i didn't quite almost believe you.
there were no geese
in the air all that evening. i think
we missed them.