A bird in the house means it.
But when it slips through the vent
hides its new life on the other side of the closet wall –
its scratching and crying sounds
like it’s inside my clothes,
the ones just hanging there, waiting –
can that be death in seven forms, each one
opening and closing its tiny new mouth?
I call someone, and even though his ad says humane
he tells me he has to vacuum it out through a hose,
babies and all. I was scared when I didn’t know.
Squirrels, mice, bats — even their young —
menace. But baby birds. I’m not happy about it,
think it’s lousy, in fact, for it to come to me
this way. Still, I leave it alone even as I think about it
there, shitting on the other side of my clothes. Each day I rise
to its cries. The humane man with the hose assures me
it will fly away any day now. That’s the way of things
after all. All new life arrives this way, everything
born tender, each hungry mouth
Every doctor thinks he has more
money than I do, even before he knows
what I do, because he knows what I have
before he knows what I do.
That’s not it.
lost every day. Days take it
out of me. Why don’t surgeons
ever talk about what they leave behind?
What do you remember
about when you were small? Big people
telling you what to do? Every doctor
is not a man.
I remember the first day
I was told to push the mower
over the grass, remember the heat
and how the handle made my hands
tremble. I thought about ants.
I remember that now, how I thought
about ants at the root of it all.
III. And Everything Else
As if it weren’t important, piling up
unattended but taking all
carried from garage to gazebo
and the music. Musicians holding
sheets in the wind. Clothespins
clamp notes to what stands.
It could be a small town – orchestra
in a square. It could be a small sound —
the thing heard around what’s happening
there. An ambulance may scream through
it all. Just fine. It could be. Or nothing at all.
What’s left over
Susan Carlson lives and works in southeastern Michigan. After years of solitary writing, she has recently begun working intently with other poets, bringing her own work into the open. This is her first publication.