Today's poem is by Susanna Lang


Above the street, above this bungalow I've lived in since before my son could walk
(one in a row of bungalows, a city laid out in a grid of houses similar as cousins),
above the ash trees threatened by yet another alien beetle,
above the honey locust and the maple my neighbor pruned this afternoon,
piling the unsatisfactory branches by the curb;

above the pavement shimmering in late summer heat
two small birds, backlit and indistinct,
hover beak to beak in a difficult ritual,
mating or feeding or the defense of territories
marked by unseen currents or the proximity of a hidden nest.

While in another city, a man stands on the street where his house stood until recently,
cement blocks smoothed into walls, one gray house among others,
until the bulldozers came to plow it under
for having violated the zoning regulations, as they said,
or for having violated more arcane regulations, certain concealed boundaries.

They do it every day, he says, I rebuild every day.
I stay here. I stay here, my sons stay here
their footing uncertain on the sunlit rubble, their house a shard of rock,
a sliver lodged under their skin.
We do not move. We die here

and the birds overhead release each other's beaks,
return to those shadowed places
in branches which someone has already thought of bringing down.
Already he is putting his hand on the long handle of the pole saw,
already the muscles in his arm are tightening.

Copyright © 2009 Susanna Lang All rights reserved
from Inkwell
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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