New York City skyline at night




Caroline Holme

The Birds Are Back

Heralding from borders south
making a green racket in the underbrush
come robin, cardinal, unhoused.
My hearing though is jaundiced
with the graying snow on which they write
the jingles that find their counterpart
in inner ear—their complex
polyphonies, precursors of Bach's
sobrieties on the pianoforte—
guessing more icy rain
of a lingering winter.

For still dread dominates.
A bird upstages my alarm at 4 a.m.—
the mournful, persistent call
to prayer, joined by one and then
another, and again—distant. Still
I doubt, forget how to hope
but listen like the deaf—longing only—
for the ken within my ken;
make them a place in my redbreast
of silence, of patient
preparation for their song.


Old Man

A tall glass of water.

He's ninety, with ragged hair.
I notice his elegant
wingtips, how at times
he dresses in expensive
clothes while other times,
with equal poise, he just
layers up to keep warm.
His family has fallen
from him like the albatross—
he's outlived his tragic
children and his drunken wife,
he's stripped and simplified.
Grace floods his being—
blood of angels—while he sheds
one husk for another—
continually transforming.
He companions us, joins
rich or poor, transparent.
His thoughts are loose
as his clothes, loose but
drape as they were meant.
He is the glass,
God the water.
He changes the room
he's present in.



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