Bird Experiencing Light

Bird Experiencing Light
after Morris Graves

“We see by means of something that illumines us,
which we do not see.”
Antonio Porchia

You are born where the light collects
and violets emerge, naked and drenched,
from the broken fields. The ocean breathes
before I am able; and you,
little bird of the spirit, perch
on a burning branch with a single cry.
Your eyes open to the mineral sun.
You arrive in a dawn of roots, primordial
at the shore, gazing for a spell
beyond the yellow horizon.

Your mother is awake, lying
there, alive
by the hands of surgeons. She smiles,
lighting the world from within. Wonder is enough,
and at other times we want to soar
in the cavernous spring or discover
the brushy trees of ripe guava
at the foot of the volcanic crater. Helpless,
I stand in the operating room,
no longer able to feel afraid
when the nurse calls me over
and lays you in my arms. Stiff as a minute,
I soften around you, oh you, the last egg.
I am ready to begin, to make sense
of the flaring.

Someday, angel of the seashore, you will ask,
and I will tell—
you have taken your village place
among the fragrant names,
among the ciara of forgetting and of the eyes.
Evidence is all around us, metal or leaf,
incandescent wind or knowing
when the fossils ring in the buttes,
in deepest faults, in the lost library.
Already your astonished heart is open
and breathes, has begun to heal itself.

I ease us onto the freeway, stay far
to the right, ever so slow, until we arrive
at the house on 88th Street.
We swaddle you, and there we are,
so many theories of the fleeting world,
so many transparent lives, and your wings.
With every breath, our bodies say it is so,
even as the ebullient flowers
greet you forever, and then,
with the colors of our tears.

William O’Daly

Published in Tule Review, Summer 2010