Variations on a Trance

Robins in the cottonwoods,
holding still as the thin snow comes.
The sun seems to flood them with blood.
They have settled in the empty branches
while the storm-lamps spit in your limbs,
red evening swinging across the sky then dropping,
ragged, into your frame to stay with you
as you move and smile and have opinions.
Then a woman’s torso white with dawn—
their rich perch is yours, there is nothing you need
to expect or retrieve, like warm fields
floating toward an invisible moon.
A person learns stone-throated composures
and barters for days of calm weather,
like a man in a dream who understands the answering
pressure of eyes—you ask too much.
But the birds are not reckless.
Every minute their fat shapes are filling with sun,
and I apprentice myself to their candor.
Their bodies drift on the moving branches, solid—
they are not taking and keeping.
They are not torn papers in a rumor of wind,
their small backs brown fields holding thunderclouds up.
Inside their bodies, nothing falls to the earth and dies.

Joanna Klink, "Variations on a Trance" from Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy.  Copyright © 2015 by Joanna Klink.  Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Source: Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy (Penguin Books, 2015)
More Poems by Joanna Klink