The nets of God hang in every wild place
to catch the unwary migrant, one with the skull
still soft, the journey barely started,
another to fall from the sky on the ten thousandth mile,

but when he holds one of those small, terrified
bodies like a jewel between his thumb and forefinger
and unfans the wing to measure it, secretly admiring
the bars he conceived to catch his own hungry eye,
and the little claw foot he rings with a coded band
that numbers the feathers and weds him forever
to the pulse in his palm that recalls his own heaving heart
the day he flew into a net and hung there thirsting
in the woods where only a wasp moved, flicking cobalt wings—

when he lets go, when he flings what he has marked
into emptiness, he follows the speck with his eye
to South America and farther, to white unmapped fields
known intimately in the mind of one who flies.

Reprinted from What a Light Thing, This Stone (Sow's Ear Press, 1999). Copyright © 1999 by Suzanne Underwood Rhodes. Used with permission of the author.