Birds Appearing in a Dream

One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi,
another a tail of color-coded wires.
One was a blackbird stretching orchid wings,
another a flicker with a wounded head.

All flew like leaves fluttering to escape,
bright, circulating in burning air,
and all returned when the air cleared.
One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower,

deep in the ground, miles from water.
Everything is real and everything isn’t.
Some had names and some didn’t.
Named and nameless shapes of birds,

at night my hand can touch your feathers
and then I wipe the vernix from your wings,
you who have made bright things from shadows,
you who have crossed the distances to roost in me.

More by Michael Collier

Goat on a Pile of Scrap Lumber

He lowers his head like a fur-covered anvil
as if he knows all things in the world change.
His eyes are bisected by a horizon line of yellow light.
You’re wondering what might happen if you move closer.
There’s a language we speak to ourselves and one we use for others.
I told you, he’s lowered his head.
Nevertheless, you can see for yourself he’s chewing.
What he swallows becomes his rumination.
I too was attracted to someone I did not understand.
With each other we were bestial, that’s not too strong a word.
Although at first, at first, when our foreheads touched, we were curious.

 

For Judy and Joe Powell

Crows in a Fresh Mown Field Before Rain

Three in a group then one coming from a distance
to make four dividing into two scavenging pairs.

They waddle like ducks, dibble like robins.
This close to the earth they have nothing to say.

And yet as they bobble in a hands-behind-back
colloquy of feints and nods they are the ankle boots

of an idea gone missing, their laces threaded
through eyelets but left untied, accountants

of random expenditures, connoisseurs 
of the worm’s catacombs of waste, they limp eastward,

toward the mountains, covered in contractor bag
capes, one wiry foot then the other on the ground. 

If they would stay just where they are, all morning, 
they’d be the monument to the history they’re looking for.