Today's poem is by G. C. Waldrep

Still Life, with Drawing

The drawing of a bird draws
another drawing, this time of an ocean.

You're OK with this.
It's not like an actual bird
has drawn an ocean.

But then, before you've had a chance
to properly appreciate
this new drawing,
the drawing of an ocean

draws a perfect American
domestic scene:
picket fence, red-brick house
with square windows,
black smoke puffing from the chimney.

This is a little more alarming:
what does a drawing of an ocean know
about how we live,
or how we say we want to live,
or how our children think about living

when they think about living,
when they're asked to draw a house?
What does a drawing of an ocean

know about our children?

Before, however, you've had time
to really unpack
your discomfort — your impending
dismay — the drawing of a house

has drawn another bird.
It's pretty good, as far as drawings go:

a faint ruffling of the feathers,
the fierce, inhuman cock to the eye.

It's the sort of bird
you might have drawn, once,
sitting bored in church
or in the car while your mother

shopped for groceries,
milk or lunch meat, something she'd
forgotten earlier in the week.

You drew a lot of birds back then
because, well, birds were easy,
and there were always

too many of them: at the feeders,
on the sidewalks, nesting
in the trees and eaves, plucking worms
from the pavement
after heavy rain. Back then,

when you drew birds in the air,
you drew them as letters
from the alphabet, V's mostly. Now

you're not really sure
what you want, only for something
to change, to be different

either from what things are
or from what things ought to be.

You wonder if you wait long enough
whether this new drawing of a bird
will make another drawing,

of an alphabet, maybe,
or of some house you'd rather live in,

two oceans standing proudly out front,
three oceans scheming inside.

Copyright © 2009 G. C. Waldrep All rights reserved
from Poetry London
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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