She's not angry exactly but all business, eating them right off the tree, with confidence, the kind that lets her spit out the bad ones clear of the sidewalk into the street. It's sunny, though who can tell what she's tasting, rowan or one of the serviceberries— the animal at work, so everybody, save the traffic, keeps a distance. She's picking clean what the birds have left, and even, in her hurry, a few dark leaves. In the air the dusting of exhaust that still turns pennies green, the way the cloudy surfaces of things obscure their differences, like the mock orange or the apple rose that cracks the paving stone, rooted in the plaza. No one will say your name, and when you come to the door no one will know you, a parable of the afterlife on earth. Poor grapes, poor crabs, wild black cherry trees, on which some forty-six or so species of birds have fed, some boy's dead weight or the tragic summer lightning killing the seed, how boyish now that hunger to bring those branches down to scale, to eat of that which otherwise was waste, how natural this woman eating berries, how alone.
Stanley Plumly - 1939-2019
The spirit world the negative of this one, soft outlines of soft whites against soft darks, someone crossing Broadway at Cathedral, walking toward the god taking the picture, but now, inside the camera, suddenly still. Or the spirit world the detail through the window, manifest if stared at long enough, the shapes of this or that, the lights left on, the lights turned off, the spirits under arcs of sycamores the gray-gold mists of migratory birds and spotted leaves recognize. Autumnal evening chill, knife-edges of the avenues, wind kicking up newspaper off the street, those ghost peripheral moments you catch yourself beside yourself going down a stair or through a door—the spirit world surprising: those birds, for instance, bursting from the trees and turning into shadow, then nothing, like spirit birds called back to life from memory or a book, those shadows in my hands I held, surprised. I found them interspersed among the posthumous pages of a friend, some hundreds of saved poems: dun sparrows and a few lyrical wrens in photocopied profile perched in air, focused on an abstract abrupt edge. Blurred, their natural color bled, they'd passed from one world to another: the poems, too, sung in the twilit middle of the night, loved, half-typed, half-written-over, flawed, images of images. He'd kept them to forget them. And every twenty pages, in xerox ash-and-frost, Gray Eastern, Gold Western, ranging across borders.