The King of Birds

You park beside the shopping cart return,
get out and pause to breathe the tensing cold.

A line of channel drains is choked with leaves.
And then a wren rasp-clattering unseen

inside the hedge beneath a streetlight pole:
at birth, altricial in undergrowth;

your mother read its fabled, failed attempts
to be the King of Birds; at death, a clot

of decomposing feather, bone and claw.
A kindergarten teleology—

from A to B, life, death, et cetera
—takes shape as shopping carts, this cold, a wren,

the world since waking leads to here, your lungs
so bright they shape the heaving of the sky.

Reprinted from Fifth Wednesday 14 (2014).