The Day the Wind Took Up and Carried
by Marcia F. Brown
Barely dawn and a new bird with a lunatic song
is perched outside my window — six startling–shrill chirrup–chirrup’s ascending rapidly, then
one long descending trill — like someone falling
down stairs or a kid on a playground slide.
He picks himself up and does it
all over again. Can’t stop. Or no —
it’s more like a drunken bluesman
who’s spent all night at the club and goes
weaving and riffing up the empty street, still
crooning the blues in the cool half–light.
My old teacher says when he can’t sleep,
he lies in bed and writes in his head. So I try it
but I can’t write jack with this bird shrieking
like an air raid warning at 4 am. Which reminds me
that the poem I am trying to write is called
The Day the Wind Took Up and Carried . . .
because of a couple down South I saw
standing in the rubble of their home the day
the wind took up and carried everything away
and I wondered where do you go from there
with nothing but your Red Cross cup of coffee,
your paper wallet full of vouchers, and a free
T–shirt from the Home Depot trailer?
I want to know how people do this
after the wind . . . but the bird won’t let me
get about my business of feeling my way
into this loss, the huge space of what used to be:
a neighborhood, the woman–with–the–dachshund’s
house, the corner where you poked your letters
in a blue mailbox. He’s all I can think about:
Chirrup–chirrup, whistie–down–the–stairs . . . I bet
even that wind couldn’t pry
this little sucker’s feet from his perch. He’s no quitter.
But wait — maybe it did. Maybe he was
knocked loose, buffeted around with the toss–pillows,
bathroom glass, the CD of Tupelo Honey — my bird,
taken up by the wind and carried
all the way from Natchez, blown up the coast
to sit outside my window and sing about it.
And maybe he’s telling me my poem
needs to be like the blues: not figure out why
things happen or pretend to know
what he or those people holding the broken picture frame
are feeling after the wind . . . just make
one long lament — something you could sing
lurching your way up the street
in the first and somehow startling
light of morning.