Not a living soul about,
except for me and the magpie. I know
if I don’t keep moving, he’ll pluck
the breath from my body, taste it
on his tongue before it slides
down his throat, giving him new prophecies
to speak. He’s the bird Noah didn’t send out,
afraid he’d carry the ark’s complaints to heaven.
Tonight he scallops from the copse of willows
to the power pole, stares down at me. I match him
cry for cry, not knowing what I mean but feeling
good about it, the bird part of my brain lit up.
Coyotes, too, start their music as if the magpie’s
flown in to be the guest conductor
for the length of time it takes the sun to sink.
He flips his tail, bringing up the oboes
then the high notes of the flutes. Other souls,
those I sense but cannot see,
wait among the stones along the riverbank
until they’re sure the magpie is distracted,
then scentless and inedible to anyone but him,
they make their wingless foray
across the ice and running water,
mouthfuls of silence that, if not for coyotes,
the magpie would hear.
DON’T SAY IT
You admire the wild grasses
for their reticence.
When you cut across the dusk for home,
the meadow is more beautiful
for all it keeps inside.
Syllables of seeds catch in your socks
but they don’t need to say,Thank you, friend,
even if you’ve carried them
for miles. THE FIRST DAY OF THE YEAR
The new writer sucks her fingers
in her crib. There is nothing
to distinguish her – like the extra toe
literary cats – from all the other
babies down the block.
She is dreaming ink
though she hasn’t seen it
in this world yet
and no one knows,
least of all her parents,
she loves nothing
better than the blank
of the bottom sheet
when she’s laid damp
from her morning bath
Excerpted from Small Mechanics by Lorna Crozier. Copyright © 2011 by Lorna Crozier. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.