Four Audubon Poems, by Noah Davis
Turkey Buzzard, Audubon Plate CLL
We’ve weighted ourselves with others,
and while neck-deep in the necks of the dead,
have learned to keep our feathers off our faces,
cheeks smooth like the ball of a hip, which we shovel
out of the flesh and hold in our chests like the colour
of morning when all our wings are stretched out in praise.
Trumpeter Swan, Audubon Plate CCCCVI
Beloved, you found
the moth, in all this water.
Like you found me.
Your neck bent
back for us.
Virginia Partridge, Audubon Plate LXXVI
Terror finds us like water
finds the crease
between two hills
and we the forsaken soils
are scattered by its wings
to fill the basin with silt.
We on our backs,
beloveds on our throats,
whistle of ourselves straining
to outlast the height of our heads
Great-Footed Hawk, Audubon Plate XVI
May we never again eat a meal
so quick that we forget to watch
the feathers we’ve torn
from the duck return
All artworks are plates from Birds of America, by John James Audubon (USA, b. Haiti) c. 1827-1838
Noah Davis grew up in Tipton, Pennsylvania, and writes about the Allegheny Front. Davis’ poetry collection Of This River was selected by George Ella Lyon for the 2019 Wheelbarrow Emerging Poet Book Prize from Michigan State University’s Center for Poetry, and his poems and prose have appeared in The Sun, Southern Humanities Review, Best New Poets, Orion, The Year’s Best Sports Writing, North American Review, and River Teeth among others. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and awarded a Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellowship at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the 2018 Jean Ritchie Appalachian Literature Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University. Davis earned an MFA from Indiana University and now lives with his wife, Nikea, in Missoula, Montana.
Click here to read another series of poems after Audubon, by Colin Morris.
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