the bones of the birds are empty


You ask if it’s a waste of time
I say whittle time down to the simple in and out
to the wind in your body, you animal, you still breathe like other people.
A minute becomes a diamond under the scrutiny of your focus
Exhale, you angel, you still live
pause at the top of the breath
count backward to birth
to that time before you existed, and spoke words and grasped with your little hands
Go back, to the damp quiet of the pause in your mother’s throat
Go back, you animal, you were born just like all the dying

You ask for the truth
but you know the skin lies, the body is misunderstood, the world turns and you lie down
becoming earth, you are always being born
These wrinkles tell tall tales, tell me they don’t, tell me you aren’t still the child you were
back before you stretched and turned and stood up to greet adulthood
tell your skin to tell the truth
tell the lines in your palms you believe in them
tell your reflection it is a shapeshifter, don’t trust it, tell me I’m wrong
Keep saying words like they hold an idea any better than your hands do

You ask if we are mourning or celebrating
I can tell you it is both
I can pretend to know the answers
You can pretend to understand,
There is no darkness to frighten us, it is welcoming you, each breath is welcome back pretend you know this
console the body, count backwards to before fear
to the warmth of the womb, the emptiness between the stars, the pause at the top of the
read the history of this body
-you smile, you still have one,
you still use this vehicle to navigate through time, when will we leave it behind
When do we leave here
move on to the unimaginable dark center of the throat of the universe
I wonder what singing sounds like there
I wonder where we are going
All the adults facing forward, surreptitiously checking the rear view
Catch your reflection looking back, you child, you look back like all the rest of us
-taillights in the dusk, the distant crack of baseball meeting bat, the deepening summer night, the scent of memories, the dust of the stars in the lines of the palms of our hands
Breathe in
The body remembers
exhale, pause, wonder, you ask, like all the others
where are we going?
you know
the bones of the birds are empty
that is how they can fly


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