Lines West: Birds of the Gulf Coast
Birds of the Gulf Coast
With a line by John Ashbery
In the eye of the storm
the air is as still as troubled sleep and
emptied of time. For the birds of Texas
or Louisiana, no mass migrations or
extinctions on the horizon, just those who
lost all sense of direction swimming through
oceans of air, who’ll tell the kingfisher’s god
all is forgiven even though it was us who invented
forgiveness. Who built downriver from the refineries and
superfund sites, who gave the Brazos its
untamed name, who can increase in intensity
or not, the monotony of the sun.
Who write Birds make poor role models.
After days of lacerating rainveils, the myths,
rescued dogs, children and floating graves are
reconstituted into nuclear families, Hemingway’s
house and the fifty-four six-toed cats survived intact,
the moon is a gentleman caller,
the rose petal clouds left behind are
strewn across its freshened light’s path.
— John Macker