The Absence of Birds
What was it that was missing? The cloud movement
above a delicate line of rooftops, poised
as if in flight. A bird that wasn’t there.
Was that it? For a moment,
I was nearer myself than skin, nearer than
touch. I knew the bird
as it flew invisible, a cloud embedded.
I felt the truth of light as it spun down from
a distant sun, millions.
The absence of bird, and the truth of what it is
to be sitting barefoot in a gallery,
avoiding the guards,
this moment connecting me to the girl I was
at the MET, when I knew my life
was in the streaks of paint, and I walked around
Twenty years later, sitting at another
birdless sky and I the bird. No nearer light,
and yet, the blues that carve
their shadowed crags into the mountains, I feel them
under my hair. The mountain’s veins run with all the blood
before me and after, and I for a moment get to see it.
Maybe this blood is what beauty is. Maybe
if I were a bird I would know fewer things, but deeper:
The feel of air beneath me, the small adjustments to make
with my wings to allow carriage by the wind.
I would land on the church’s spire to better see the water.
Meghan Sterling's work has been published in Driftwood Press, lingerpost, the Chronogram, red paint hill, Balancing Act, the Sandy River Review, Sky Island Journal, and many others. Her chapbook, How We Drift, was published by Blue Lyra Press in the Fall of 2016. Meghan will be attending a residency at Hewnoaks Artists' Colony in September, 2019. Her work can be found at meghansterling.com.
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