In the Salt Marsh: Poems (2004)

An Accident

Thunk. A goldfinch dropped to the deck,
her head bobbing, unstrung,
her buttery breast warm when I picked her up,
her left eye pushed back where it struck the glass,
the other open, black as a currant
but clouding over, like the day itself,
as I carried her in a clamshell serving again
as a coffin for a creature leaving its element.
I tucked up her feet and the wing splayed
by the blow. All afternoon my bird lay
in state on the glass table under the umbrella.
Her crushed eye sank deeper. A dropperful
of blood darkened and slicked her breast.
With night coming on, I fetched my bird
and closed her up in the shed
where the crows would not find her.
On the third day, maggots writhed in her belly
like a terrible birth, and I rushed her outside,
a black rag of herself. One wing stuck out
like a knife plunged through a scorched bun.
The fifth day brought rain. The maggots left
to start their own journey.
Your tail feathers loosened, one by one,
and your bones appeared in tatters of flesh.
May you wake in your next life as a glad bride
who turns to her groom and tells him her dream.
When I was a bird, the wind carried me,
and when I died, somebody said goodbye.