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


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