Today's poem is by George Looney

The Sleep of Wood in The Houses of Wrens

It's not the wrens but the girl in overalls,
his daughter, he talks to
cutting and sanding wood to build houses
wrens will only use if he doesn't
paint them. He used to paint them,
and they'd stay unvisited till they rotted
and fell into pieces she'd pick up

to save because it seemed something needed
to be saved. Nothing was. But
the splinter that festered in her finger
from one of the gray shards,
the one she didn't tell her father about
but pinched and pushed until she gave up
and let it rot its way into her blood,

that dead wood went dormant.
Sleep infected her years later
in another state where wrens
had so many houses built for them
they were transient, their song
a reminder everything just keeps going
and then is gone. Like that

shop thick with the refuse of wood,
like the garden with wrens singing Oklahoma
into a forgotten state where
a man who once drove a truck
could landscape his backyard into a paradise
hummingbirds and wrens and blue jays dance in.
When the heat was the worst,

they'd bathe in dry soil because
the council wouldn't let him water his garden
when it looked like there wouldn't be
enough water for people to drink in town.
Even the drunks, singing harsh,
took their whiskey straight, sacrifice
an angel that grapples with us

beside many rivers, even forgotten ones
that have gone to dust. Can we
expect wrens to live in graying wood and sing,
or a woman with gray wood
budding in her heart and other organs
to wake after only eight hours?
The sleep of wood is much longer

than the sleep of flesh. And wrens,
they sleep minutes at a time.
Building the houses, the man breathes in
dust from the sander and coughs.
The same dust clings in his daughter's hair
and makes her a woman
the most invisible wrens could live in.

Copyright © 2005 George Looney All rights reserved
from The Precarious Rhetoric of Angels
White Pine Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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