Tree trunk with branches, Carl Theodor Reiffenstein

Blackbirds wearing a monk’s clothes
angle hold cups of their songs
the chirps that tip spill drip
like ointment into ears.

I have stared into the eyes
of grove trees: the survivors
of time, of expansion:

the edges that pushed
into a field of nothing:
ashes, oaks, maples:
until I turn around:
middle aged now:
and all there are: trunks:

and walking and exhaling:
the rhythm of tree shadows
in the orchard of notes:
the rut avenue, the path
that leads to the bluff:
the remains of something stone
that once was built collapsed now.

What weight an apple
in my jacket pocket
a deep breath, a pause
to listen for an unrecognized
distant sound again
when measured against the bends
the crooked trunks of a birch tree
holding up the blue sky?

Frightened small birds:
juncos, finches
common sparrows
that scatter and hide
in the chest of an evergreen:

tell me what makes them glide
and plummet in sudden wingsnaps
like a monotone:
one brown squeak:
one body rising
to and from the ground:

seeds? insects? need?

Was this spot ever the grave
of anything larger
than the blue jay pulled apart
by this morning’s hawk?

The horizon sky warms pink
warms yellower than winter wheat:
a garden stretched along a wooden fence
at the border of a backyard:

something in the trees
is gasping like a blanket
stretched tight
over the tops of our heads:
that claustrophobia.

I say out loud:
The sky is embalmed
the sky is so embalmed:

and why do I repeat myself?

My shadow tips uphill:

something inaudible as a spider:
something inaudible as a shoe scuff:
something inaudible as sunburn
on my cheeks and neck
scares birds into yammer and flight:

the redpurple dash of another finch:

horses have burned a ring
into the flattened field:
their backs, their muscles
their tight flesh to be admired:

I walk across the sleep of grass:
the stitched leaf shadows:
the trunk that leans across path
gravel and road, shoulder
drainage ditch weeds:

and there: like a promise:
gut ooze and black blood:
a dead raccoon embroidered
with bulb thick green fly buzz
that soon turns to maggots:
the soft sides of its hide
collapsing like grief’s empty words.