There Is a Birdsong at the Root of Poetry

For Ann Lauterbach

Hemmed in by an un-

tenable image:

                 feathers planted

below fragile branches 

                 of avian feet            scaly crossroads scoring

a particular blue of sky


through the uselessness of misplaced

                  forms                       thorny prongs

that make no sense (and yet belong)
                  on the ground

out of which

                  the bird wings stiffly jut

rigid as

                  rhubarb leaf.
                                                    Should you

kneel the body's aged mechanism

                beneath the shade of dry feathers,
                                                    should you

angle the vulnerable cavern

                of ear—trembling passage to psyche's
                failures   our fall

into suffering                           knowledge—toward the root

                                                    should you

listen        you will hear
                the wasted strains of an underground song

rising from the muffled beak: site of a perverse smothering

                throated core submerged

deadened by thoughtless depths

                but alive

for the dead have kept it

                safe from false music

a ghoulish guard of LOVE
                                                  SAFE from


she who
               bullied by the cruelty of others

the sophistication of fashionable libraries
             the envy of those

who would molest the world into false confessions

and banish                              all mystery

             with their dripping

candles                   she who would

unearth the birdsong                         to cage it

she who                 will end by destroying what she loves most.
           Shhhh, quiet


it is drawn by other amblers
               its strains awake in our attentions

as a sudden           bewildering              happiness

              ear wedded to earth, listen

and hear
          what those who know all

can not.


Jennifer Moxley, "There is a Birdsong at the Root of Poetry" from The Open Secret. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Moxley.  Reprinted by permission of Flood Editions.
Source: The Open Secret (Flood Editions, 2014)
More Poems by Jennifer Moxley