be of good cheer
Like the waxwings in the juniper,
a dozen at a time, divid- ed, paired,
passing the berries back and forth, and by night- fall, wobb- ling, piping, wounded with joy.
falls—blossom and seed,
nutmeat and fruit—
made light in the head and
cut by the light,
swept from the ground,
carried downwind, taken....
It's called wing-rowing, the wing- burdened arms unbending, yielding, striking a balance,
walking the white
invisible line drawn
just ahead in the air,
first sign the slur,
the mouth melodious, too close, which starts
the chanting, the crooning, the long lyric
silences, the song of our undoing.
It's called side-step, head- forward, raised- crown, flap-
and-glide- flight aggression, though courtship is
the object, affection the compulsion,
love the overspill — the body nodding,
itself—or its bill-tilt, wing-flash, topple-
over; wing-droop, bowing, tail-flick and drift; back-ruffle, wingspread,
quiver and soar.
Someone is troubled,
someone is trying,
in earnest, to explain;
to speak without
swallowing the tongue; to find the perfect
word among so few or the too many—
the deepest part
of the understory, territorial,
in order to make
one sobering sound.
Sound of the breath
blown over the bottle,
sound of the reveler
home at dawn, light of
the sun a warbler yellow,
the sun in song-flight, lopsided-pose.
Be of good-cheer,
Stanley Plumly, "Cheer" from Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2000 by Stanley Plumly.
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