Note to My Younger Self on the Beauty of Birds


By Larry Duncan

One day you will meet a woman
who will put her hands on your face
as if cradling a tea cup
to scry the leaves.
Her fingers will fit the damage
and petty brutalities
you wear like a roadmap
over the contours of your skin.
It will slow the ceaseless
rattle of your bones
and you will know a quiet
like you have never known.

When you think of her,
you will think of the color blue
coming in waves
not like water
but as if it were alive,
aware and all around you.

Do not reach for her wrist.

You will be too heavy
and there will be something
fragile in the air,
something you cannot help but crush
if you close your hand.

You will never wake together in the morning.
You will never read articles
from the Sunday paper to her
over bagels and coffee.
You will never come up on her at the kitchen
sink just as she brushes a strand of loose hair
behind her ear with a wet glove,
leaving suds on her cheek
like tiny clouds.

You will never know if your hand
fits her face as hers fits yours.

And she will never know
that you are slow moving and earthbound
that you are a stone
that you fall with weight
into a pit of gravity and hunger
that crushes the bird-boned brilliances
of your life into a constellation
of dense, misshapen diamonds.

Just be still
and she will fly away.

But one night,
if you’re lucky,
she will lie in bed
and think of you
at the exact moment
you are seeing blue
and it will be as if you are standing
face to face
in a world without weight
and it might just be enough
to lift you up and off the ground.

Previously appeared in issues six and seven of Citizens for Decent Literature and his chapbook Crossroads of Stars and White Lightning.


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