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The Invisible Birds of Central America

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For Alicia

The bird who creaks like a rusty playground swing
the bird who sharpens the knife         the bird who blows
on the mouths of milk bottles         the bird who bawls like a cat
like a cartoon baby         the bird who rubs the wineglass
the bird who curlicues         the bird who quacks like a duck
but is not a duck         the bird who pinks on a jeweller's hammer
They hide behind the sunlight scattered throughout the canopy
At the thud of your feet they fall thoughtful and quiet
coming to life again only when you have passed
Perhaps they are not multiple         but one
a many-mooded trickster         whose voice is rich
and infinitely various         whose feathers
liquify the rainbow         rippling scarlet
emerald indigo         whose streaming tail
is rare as a comet's         a single glimpse of which
is all that you could wish for         the one thing
missing         to make your eyes at last feel full
to meet this wild need of yours         for wonder

Source: Poetry (October 2008)
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The Invisible Birds of Central America

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