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).