Juliet Patterson: Stolen from a Branch

As in the parable, the truant lover
arrived. Morning, not a sample a quotation,
It was only a bird! but let’s forget

about those hidden references touched
by something the I don’t know that keeps flying

out of your mouth when I’m talking.

To believe or not believe that is not the question.

Why not the frosty eyelid turning to feathers?

Why not your hand slurred among the sheets
off to educate the woolen peony

of desire, five-fingered glove.

This bed in a bare-walled room, alone
is northern enough

to bend a branch, twist a mind.

In the mind, the sparrow is other, not you
though you also were legislated to fly—

Let’s measure the raw, archaic cold

tweezed by chopsticks.
Why not this palace of ice?

Then tears, too, appraised:

a bird stolen from a branch is unforgivable.
In forgiveness, one might easily believe all poems

were about her.



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