American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry · Uncategorized

Peter Everwine

As a child running loose,
I said it this way: Bird.
Bird, a startled sound at field’s edge.
the sound my mouth makes, pushing away
      the cold.
So, at the end of this quiet afternoon,
wanting to write the love poems I’ve never
      written,
I turn from the shadow in the cottonwood
and say blackbird, as if to you.
There is the blackbird. Black bird, until its
      darkness
is the darkness of a woman’s hair falling
across my uptunred face.
And I go on speaking into the night.
The oriole, the flicker,
the gold finch.

— Peter Everwine, from “Learning to Speak,” Collecting the Animals (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000)

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