V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




One thing beside another with no reason
Beyond some taxonomic hallucination—
Ceylon broach, South African soapstone pipe bowl,

Azurite fetish, scrimshaw hairpin, then
At last a notional order: entire cases of heads,
Human here, and shrunken; there

Avian: ear and ruff,
Corythaix persa’s crest, showy green
Edged white, or, beyond ornament, beaks

Lamellated, conical, fissirostral, each evolved
Precisely for its function, which
The gloss declines to tell us.  In this case

Feet, disarticulated to fix attention
Before we’re free to see the birds entire
And frankly disappointing, dusty, posed, not up

To their fantastic names (Ascar fairy bluebird,
Crimson sunbird, ivory breasted pitta), though to see
Any such creature in full motion, flustering

Deepest canopy, silencing the jungle,
Would be something else again,
It would.


© by Katharine Coles


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