Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Landfill Orchids

Finding a swallow chick
fallen on the floor of the barn
by a pool of cobalt grease
leaked from the Ford 8-N

we gave her to the compost, feeding
the landfill orchids & thistles
with her cold, lake body.
When my sister drank poison

from under the bathroom sink
I flew through each room, bewildered
as the poison control officer
talked my parents through

how to purge her stomach,
or maybe telling them not to,
some poisons doing a second damage
that way. What a musical notation

her dreams must have been, her liver
breaking the chemical down, as starlings
turn the oil of poison ivy berries
into bruise-glossed feathers or

owls boil the flesh from skulls
of voles into the pure calories
of their night-seeing. In our barn
we've a chest marked "Bird Skins"

our father found at the landfill
& my sister & I wonder what became
of the specimen shrouds that lined the trays,
one to each typed label: chimney swift,

cactus wren, vireo, barn owl
& barn swallow. Making dinner
tonight, we fold corn, red onion
& peppers into discs of dough

she rolls out, & I brush a yolk
over each turnover, listen for the birds
burrowing under the orchids, in the oven
of the compost drum.

--Colin Cheney

*Note: Blogger didn't retain indentations specific to this poem's formatting. Boo. (Pardon.)

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