I grew up in Maryland and have since moved many times until I now call rural Iowa home with my wife and two cats. I have published two collections of poems, Keeping the Tigers Behind Us and Traveling Light. To keep myself sane, I garden and canoe and watch the birds.
The Language: Morning on the Outer Banks
It’s like the dark water I’d crawl into
just before dawn, drifting on smooth high tide
swells, beyond breakers, with my head
tucked beneath the black surface peering into
another world: schools of perch in the periphery
turn & dart in the blue, rays slicing
into the dark as dolphins click, feeding
in the distance. A crab scuttles by
then stops, stares up, then buries himself
in the sand. Slow roll and glide. They’d barely see
me from shore, but no one looked. At ease,
weightless, until the sun rose and broke the spell
and I pulled myself on shore, empty-handed,
and thought to myself how it’s always like that.
It is a singular chorus outside your window:
all day and night the mockingbirds sing,
gossip, and jabber without a song of their own.
From screech to warble to liquid tone,
the mockingbird’s whistling
turns a single bird into a chorus all alone.
No doubt, he enjoys to make his presence known.
Conspicuous high on eaves or fence or line,
he imitates as if the song were a song of his own.
Through the night, his song rings through town,
and the day finds him just as loud, an aspiring
chorus of voices rising in each bird alone.
It’s like this I think, the desire to clown
and fake our way into a song, to make something lasting
even without a song of our own.
Inside the mockingbird’s song, an endless string
of borrowed voices, phrases and nouns
woven into a single voice, warbling all alone.
The mockingbird sings as if the song were his own.
Praise the broken, the ruptured, the disconnected;
praise the grass overgrown, the dandelion
seeds drifting over every beautiful lawn.
Praise the sad, the worried, the infected
among us, the words we might use to heal,
the syntax of sorrow and grief inverted
into music. Praise the music. The departed
now wander through distant valleys we can’t see
uttering words we may hear but can’t recognize
as their voice. Praise all the deaf and blind
messages we receive, voices in the wind
carried toward us and away. Praise the cries
and moans, the dispossessed and damned,
all that reminds us how little we understand.
©2017 Glenn Freeman
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