taken aloft by outstretched wings,
leaving us the nakedness and bareness of
your earthly presence.
Mother swooping, claws drawn,
cuticles recessed and ready,
leaving little more than a trail
of pizzle drifting from your now
In the corner, the saddlebag arms of my father’s chair
are stained with time. Across the back-worn velvet,
is the shadow of two tiny wings; the movement of his arms
battling against an aging frame like an eagle
in Florida flight with the weight of heavy prey.
On the matching chair, my mother nests-
springs gone and the feathered base, an assortment
of hair pins and chocolate wrappers, scrunching
with each tiny movement, twist and turn
and the remote in arm’s reach; a mere stretch of time.
A sudden noise calls on talons, nothing more
than cotton tugs protruding out from each chair’s base
as if to catch the carpet in deep scurry. A head lol, roll
and drift on lofty heights of remembered air currents
sooth, settle and preen back to a fixed state.
Like dappled sunlight through the leaves of the trees,
the television flickers in the darkness. Distant cars
like lost beasts in the night are my welcomed lullaby.
Year on year I return to this feathered homecoming
for my crop spit and glistening tinsel. I am home.
In a figure eight I rub
the charcoal block
on the worn warm slate.
The pit of puddle
reflects the cloudless
Your wingtips dipped,
wash across the paper;
the yin of quiet stream,
the yang of craggy outcrop.
Your vermillion hat;
the cinnabar bow of your head.
You, standing there proudly in that red top hat
with your astute presence amongst
the likes of us golden pheasant, peafowl, goose and egret.
And him, with his robe of gold and his spoken couplet;
the centerfold of rosewood window shutters lined with mulberry,
hiding secret whispers from an inner sanctum.
You again, with the long legs and sharp beak of obscurity,
pecking and plucking at the scurrying insignificance;
a wing-flapping torment, the satisfaction of elevated presence.
Him, in his yi shan guan courting subjects,
in their blues and greens, rhinoceros, panther and bear.
Tianzi enemy eyes, burning villages by heavenly decree.
You, in your flight. The arcing span of wing casting shadow
on the high mount and tepid pond, sending shivers
to the quickening silver slivers under the tranquil silent water.
And him, with thunderous hooves and marching men,
built rock upon stone, blood upon family, in towers
across aching mountains to hold back the sun.
You, Emperor Xian-he, high on your tableau in a forbidden city,
dancing to the guqin costumed in white, with him
on your back attaining immortality amongst us mere mortals.
Your name unpronounceable
we called you Margaret.
Black as we were white,
connected to land as we had risen
ourselves above it.
Lived within you, breathing for us
alone, cooking and cleaning for us
alone. Carrying on your back
the weight of this new tribe.
The language unknown. A smile
or soft retreat to the stirred pot
at the bottom of a borrowed garden.
The pound of sweet mealie;
stickiness into innocent mouths;
a breast for the great whites.
Silver kapenta lounge themselves
in the hot Zambian sun.
arm occupying chin space
a grin around ankle calf and neck
the cheek a whisper above state
inbred white meat in silver loaf
sage and time pressed deep juicing
onto another cotton-bearing skin
sweet sweat in me around you
awhile the chords lull ambivalence
for the 7:37 on the downtown line
quardle ardle and all that shit
a makeshift oven in a forgotten pit
carrying your voice on a temporal wind
calling the earth’s song with wings untrimmed
hankering for silence with a forgotten voice
throat-thirst biting on a lonely choice
taking an onward and upward approach
towards lofty solitude and a worldly encroach
I by a cloudless window yawn and glance
out to the marigold juniper with empty advance
coffee cup little more than mere dregs
the radio playing ‘give me a call’ the dj begs
could I reach out glass aside and hover there
maybe even stand forthright upon the air
as if to hold my weight all one hundred and twenty
yes an open page half-drawn half empty
my wings hued from stoic rock and bloody sinew
sprout out and cast shadow over wanton virtue
arcing high beyond the glass and the fragile eye
towards the sun plugging the half-filled sink of sky