Death in Emmigration Canyon

In this extreme white
where the hawk floats
its darkened eyelid high
above stacked snow banks
some small rabbit, mouse,
or mole fattened on our birdseed
makes for home his hundredth time,
full with the good feeling
that life goes on,
unfettered by the stainless sky,
or by it’s birds’ loud clanging,

While just above, blue jays play
a fast round of ball with some acorn
lifted from a hapless squirrel.
In April, ganged in squatting oak,
their squawk filled up the canyon.
The call of “we know what you’ve got”
tightened around a single limb.
Its bundled wad rocked
back and forth, a bed of grass
and sagebrush.

This squawk ripped up the hour
before noon when north bark yawns
still stiff with dew
and oak leaves shine
from rain-filled dreams
and sap that seeps from shadow

And not much is expected.
And then, I heard it -
not the blue jays’ caw, those punked-up
lapis leather boys
huge-tailed and afraid of nothing,
but a needle ripping, rising
through the skin of their cajoling,
a manic cry soaring through,
syringe-pulled-back-adrenaline-
oozing-at-the-tip, stabbing
at these brutes of blue

And that became my anthem.
Some tiny creature, gray wings
cocked and shuffling in the scrub oak
calling them on away
from the cradle of mud, weed,
string, sunflower leaf, shiny mornings,
cobalt nights
that only mountains sleep in

Onto herself, her see-me, get-me,
push-me, prick-me, hurt-me, rape-me,
but-don’t-touch-my-fucking-eggs! self.
That cry flew up its siren call cutting
through the jay crap,
pumped-up blue brilliance hedging forth
closer to the goods,

A cry that jerks you
out of your chair
and up against the window
with all the markings of “the end”
teetering on that tree limb

And you just have to step up
to see it

Because it’s your momma
out on that limb
crying the bejesus out of herself
blown-up to the meanest bad-ass bird
she could ever be or ever imagined
she could ever be

Because you see, it’s all
about the eggs

And she will do anything.
Anything. Anything.

Because it’s you
out there winging it,
on fire with your own existence,
scrambling from branch to branch
as they dip like crippled hands
with your weight.

Those blue jays, they are always there,
hooded as the gem-like beings
they are
hungry, always hungry
like heroin addicts haunting the streets.
You’re only another fix
to them

And your yolk can
be spilling down their face
golden and visceral,
the amber sap of Gods
and they’ll be eyeballing the next
nest

So that sparrow
has to win.
As you sat behind glass,
Zeus-like, not doing
anything.

When the first big
thug lifted up his head
from the cave of her thermal
weavings, lined with fat feathers
and her waiting out B-B’s
of frigid rain

You couldn’t be sure,
Momma standing by the wayside
out of herself
Until they’d picked up
and gone
and she dropped her head
into the precious pouch
and rose with her beak up
the turquoise shell of miracles
split and runny in her
mouth
and held it up for that
small moment
when sun found it
and blessed its broken head
sparkling goo and emerald

Then she dropped it.
And you know, you know
she will never be back
here again.

290 thoughts on “Death in Emmigration Canyon

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