if you come upon a tree made of birds
you should be grateful. a bird
is a shifting kind of thing. at any moment
i could find myself a hawk or a swallow.
have you ever missed your hollow bones?
flight is only several phylum away.
talon roots. all throat.
feather thick branches. no voices
just rustling. the first bird tree arrived
before there were humans. one bird perched
& then another & then another until
they were collaborative. until they shared
organs. until one mouth was another mouth
was another mouth. they stay deep in the forest
where no one might startle them.
deep in the forest where time has moved yet.
where a prehistory grazes on coal.
i know all this because i am a forest walker.
i fill pockets with stones & flowers. i listen
to green ghosts & whistle till the song
comes back to me. i found the bird tree
& i wept. my tears turned
to mud. my knees became root & brush
& my body knew the wildfires & the floods
& the drip of overripe nectar down
the trembling trunk. the birds eyes
all turning to coin & flashing with life.
i filled my pockets with feathers
but the feathers were gone by the time
i got home. i filled my mouth
with rocks but swallowed
each & every one of them. the bird tree
is up there waiting for us.
i forgot about boys up there. i forgot
about my ribs. i was just another
forest statue. in my house sometimes
i wish there were men made of birds
who might come & stand over me.
there is a lot of flesh in my town
& a lot of toe bones on the sidewalk.
how much practice does it take
to grow a single feather. i stare harshly
into my skin. not a single one.
in the presence of the tree i managed to sprout
three white feathers they quickly fell out
& blew away. where are those feathers?
whose are they now?