Sean Arthur Joyce

*

*

To All Those People I Made Lonely

It wasn’t you, wasn’t personal.
My loneliness sat hunched
beside yours, stone figure
contemplating something

in the deep distance, something
that never quite arrives.
Stare that fixes and won’t let go.
Twilight held precious in a glance.

Granite angel waiting millennia
to be turned to flesh, to see
evening’s epiphany of muted light.
Paradox of opposites

tangled in one, that’s me. And a damn fool
whose feet seldom touch Earth,
whose fingers for years touched paper
but not skin, drank coffee alone.

If it’s any comfort,
I couldn’t take it any better than you.
Solitude the most feline of all
shadows—now coiled and content,

now arched—a muscle about to snap.
That place where the vessel we are
pours itself on air
till emptiness is perfect.

*

Requiem for a Steller’s Jay

 
If I can’t fly, I will not live.

 
1.

It didn’t matter how often I begged him,
Please. Let me take you
To the animal shelter.
They can fix a wing like that.
Every time, he stomped away,
kicking aside leaves, keeping his distance.
Don’t try to save me.
If I can’t fly, I will not live.

I found him next morning,
already stiff. Marveled that such
blue could exist, apart from the sky.
Daubing of black on wings and head
a reminder of cousin Crow.
I buried him with full honours,
spirit bent low as I would
to any life. A solitary life
with the right to say, Enough.
If I can’t fly, I will not live.

*

2.

Two years later. I’m spading the garden
when, obscured among the tall weeds, I see
the cross I made you, held together
with elastic bands that once held broccoli.

I pause, consider the sacredness
of this spot, remove my hat
to ensure no disrespect.
I can only hope your limping,
shattered spirit is riding
a mischievous mistral
that soars on summery to no end.

 
Prepared to safely rebury you,
lay back down the cracked lattice
of your wingbones, I’m shocked
to find no trace—not even the silenced
arc of your beak. Only a soil-fisted knot
of roots, a few stones biting my shovel.
And words, careening through the vast
blindness of time. If I can’t fly,
I will not live.

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