The House Gift

By Joanie Mackowski b. 1963 Joanie Mackowski
Egg-white house, old
ache in the rafters,
small as a button but
yearning for zero:
a sparrow parts the chimney
and veers for my face.
I wanted my nevers
again, my immaculate
touch-down to the durable
granite of love too
heavy to move: this
gift, implacable
bird's-eye sorrow
reared from the original
fairy tale's page—
I don't like it. I offered
no signature, my nature
altered, and I'm over
my hurricane. Rocking
room to room, this bird
threatens my gravity,
threaded through like a pearl
from the evening's stem.
Didn't I break all
eighty-eight bones
of my compass, my wingspan
spun from my awkwardness?
This bird returns
to the shell with monstrous
wings, wings clumsy as shovels
in a fist of dirt. It's covered
with ashes, sloughing off
cloud—caught
in my hair, brown
tumor bulged upside
down on the floor
to meet the applause:
this blessing's too
unwieldy. But open
one door, one terrible
goodbye, hello—the sparrow
flings like a shout for the trees.

Source: Poetry (November 2004).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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November 2004
 Joanie  Mackowski

Biography

Joanie Mackowski’s collections of poems are The Zoo (2002) and View from a Temporary Window (2010). She received a BA from Wesleyan University, was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and received a PhD from the University of Missouri. A professor at Cornell University, she has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She is the winner of the 2003 Kate Tufts . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Home Life, Nature, Relationships, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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