I’m writing this on a napkin that hopes
to be a bird, somehow. And not a swan
but a tern, white soot flecking past the ropes
of sails in a port. The inky swan,
night, lingers close, and waits to pull its hood
and drawstring. Can terns fly blind? I scribble
farther on this thin wing than I dared. Should
I recant? Loosen the speech-ache that pulls
inside my palm like a ruined anchor?
To stammer my Psalter: I need, I need
givens, soothe, balm clean like salt. Shorn of lures,
the brine wind empties out. The napkin pleads
for flight. If its tossed to the terns, what’s left?
The ark of dusk, the lung wounded by breath.