How the Starling Came to America: a glosa for P.K. Page

This poem won Second place in the 2012 2-Day Poem Contest

Their eyes flash me such mysteries

that I am famished, am ill-clad.

Dressed in the rags of my party clothes

I gather their hairs for a little suit.

—P.K. Page, “Invisible Presences Fill The Air”

It was that teen who made our sky inscribable.

Juliet.  I would I were thy bird, she said.  The tickle

of her eyelashes made everything salient. Her lover,

needing more time, called the lark the owl.  Made day

night.  Even  the sun pulled back into its harbour.

But as the world dawned behind the cypress trees,

the mud was credible and the air was chill.

Look, who wouldn’t go as far as that girl’s lover?

Someone thought to make the New World up of these:

                      (their eyes flash me such mysteries)

 

one of every bird mentioned by Shakespeare.  Someone knew:

everyone wants providence in the fall of a sparrow,

and wants their pretty chickens not to die.

Everyone wants (whatever they say) some kind of

garrulous, even some kind of authored,

made-articulate sky. Dear America:  here’s a fad,

here’s the starling.  One of the bard’s.  It speaks

nothing but “Mortimer,” so Shakespeare says. Well, but

I remember Shakespeare’s nature.  In it, Lear went mad.

And I myself am famished and ill-clad.

 

No, nothing but “Mortimer,” and even then,

Death claimed the first syllable, claimed it anyway,

could still abrade the word. Could scoop its sense:

could get there first.  Could fail to recompense

literature for its gesture. That’s what the starling says

in idiomatic  starling.  So I compose

these lines while sitting by the window, hoping

inside and outside will coalesce.

I have a Grecian urn and a Roman nose

and am dressed in the rags of my party clothes.

 

I have a pan flute too, the better to entrance

my johnny-come-lately aviary.  I would I were

thy bird, she said. A star-crossed girl.

The leaves the starling parted were a book’s.

The world through which I wend my way is made.

I stroke the animals of which the poets wrote,

I siphon from their shadows;  I call them

introduced.  Mine is the New World, all I’ve known:

I stuff the birds (thy bird) and pluck the fruit,

I gather their hairs for a little suit.

Published online June 01 2012.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.


Poetry Only cover image

This piece was published in ‘Poetry Only,’ the Spring 2013 issue of CV2.

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