I wonder if the water etched a spotted
bull’s-eye on the pane–something to lure
the bullet birds to smash where blinds obscure
the scrabble toeholds in the screen. The knotted
cord plays on my fingers. I can pull
and burst the room with light and glitter eyes,
the beaks like shining corn, the frantic cries
and clack of wings. Do feathers bloom the dull
and piebald grass? Does blood bloom on the sill?
I’ve envied birds, the hollow flit of bone,
but not the skullthunk knocking like a stone
tossed by a lover. I could make them still,
could snap a neck as swiftly as a bean.
Instead I wait. Clean. Unseeing. Unseen.
from Autumn Sky Poetry 3 — by Julie Carter
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
St. Vitus Day
He danced at my father’s funeral, his arms
asway from the buckled down shoulders hunching
and I sat beside him felt my muscles twinge
to the beat of that dance, the hallelujah
of hands not wild in the air. Some rhythms beg
you to dance, to stir in your chair, or just let your toe
bob along the ground like a sparrow.
Something tugs the middle of your limbs,
reels you out of the grieving water, gasping,
as that man flaps and claps and shuffles
a brain-bitten kumbayah. Oh he danced
and the rows before him swayed to his sway,
and the rows behind him swayed. And the priest
kept his shoulders rigid behind the altar,
his legs Riverdancing beneath the cassock.
He danced at my father’s funeral. I danced
at his, sashaying left, right, a Pip shining
in the reflection from his casket, his closed
casket, closed so no one could see him
boogie-oogie-oogie into the ground.
by Julie Carter
Editor’s Note: St. Vitus is the patron saint of entertainers and epileptics. Somehow, this poem sidesteps the weighty historical context and reintroduces us to the joy that can be had in the midst of grief.