Deep autumn & the mistake occurs, the plum tree blossoms, twelve blossoms on three different branches, which for us, personally, means none this coming spring or perhaps none on just those branches on which just now lands, suddenly, a grey-gold migratory bird—still here?—crisping, multiplying the wrong air, shifting branches with small hops, then stilling—very still—breathing into this oxygen which also pockets my looking hard, just that, takes it in, also my thinking which I try to seal off, my humanity, I was not a mistake is what my humanity thinks, I cannot go somewhere else than this body, the afterwards of each of these instants is just another instant, breathe, breathe, my cells reach out, I multiply on the face of the earth, on the mud—I can see my prints on the sweet bluish mud—where I was just standing and reaching to see if those really were blossoms, I thought perhaps paper from wind, & the sadness in me is that of forced parting, as when I loved a personal love, which now seems unthinkable, & I look at the gate, how open it is, in it the very fact of God as invention seems to sit, fast, as in its saddle, so comfortable—& where does the road out of it go—& are those torn wires hanging from the limbs—& the voice I heard once after I passed what I thought was a sleeping man, the curse muttered out, & the cage after they have let the creatures out, they are elsewhere, in one of the other rings, the ring with the empty cage is gleaming, the cage is to be looked at, grieving, for nothing, your pilgrimage ends here, we are islands, we should beget nothing & what am I to do with my imagination—& the person in me trembles—& there is still innocence, it is starting up somewhere even now, and the strange swelling of the so-called Milky Way, and the sound of the wings of the bird as it lifts off suddenly, & how it is going somewhere precise, & that precision, & how I no longer can say for sure that it knows nothing, flaming, razory, the feathered serpent I saw as a child, of stone, & how it stares back at me from the height of its pyramid, & the blood flowing from the sacrifice, & the oracles dragging hooks through the hearts in order to say what is coming, what is true, & all the blood, millennia, drained to stave off the future, stave off, & the armies on the far plains, the gleam off their armor now in this bird's eye, as it flies towards me then over, & the sound of the thousands of men assembled at all cost now the sound of the bird lifting, thick, rustling where it flies over—only see, it is a hawk after all, I had not seen clearly, it has gone to hunt in the next field, & the chlorophyll is coursing, & the sun is sucked in, & the chief priest walks away now where what remains of the body is left as is customary for the local birds.
From Sea Change by Jorie Graham, published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2008 by Jorie Graham. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Jorie Graham was born in New York City on May 9, 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor.
Date Published: 2008-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/embodies