Sunday, April 19, 2015

Babel Fish

After tossing a few muffin crumbs to a small brown bird who reminds me of Varda, swooping down near the table when I turn my head, my ego inserts itself and begins to ask if the chittering in the trees above is in reference to me. Rather, whether the chittering is in reference to both the appearance of food and the source of the food. What would I sound like in bird song?

More than that, what would I be in bird song? Would I be recognizable to the self who drives to the grocery store, singing along with the radio at the top of my voice until my throat aches from trying to overcome the volume thudding from the speakers? Would I recognize the self who can barely speak in public? The self who frets over shorts and tops in the dark at the back of the closet? Would I be safe? Dangerous? Monstrous?

Then a herd of miniature collies comes to the outdoor cafe tables and the birds go back to the roofs of the buildings and the tops of the trees and find other subjects for conversation. Presumably.

I am still thinking about language, however. It seams that I have said several times over the past few days that I have expressed myself badly. It has been harder than expected to revise a short story in which what I want to say continually gets shoved behind descriptions that feel necessary but read poorly. The words are tangled up in thick nets of silence and must be picked out and rewoven.

And then the bird song. Suddenly, on the way home, words and phrases in French and German and Spanish are floating in my head, a tiny aquarium of exotics. I don't speak any language except English fluently, but I keep pet phrases.

I tilt my head, listening for a gossipy trill. Words, wild and domestic, flash past.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Tonight I am unruly
I will forgive, pinch, and cast off
My wandering branches.

Wait out the false spring,
Braid the withys before they dry;
Basket of bright sins.

Twine wandering limbs
Tight. Let the foolish gold gleam.
Tonight I am unruly.