When the Bird-Woman Is Away
The bird-woman is out of town
so I must fill the tubes, the stone bath.
What looks so simple when she does it
is as complicated as hernia surgery on a chicken.
Which apparatus is for sunflower seeds?
How does the suet fit in that wire cage?
And why won’t the water stay in the bowl
when I go at it with a hose?
I see mourning doves high on a neighbour’s roof,
hear chickadees in the nearby lilac bush.
Sparrows line a maple branch,
look down at my lack of progress.
I know what they’re thinking:
“He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
That’s how it is when the bird-woman is not here.
Plus, the bed is colder, the rooms feel empty.
That’s when I join the sparrows on the branch.
“You’re right,” I tell them. “He doesn’t know.”
He’s Changed So Much Over the Years
you make up the bed
where the two of you once slept,
and when you’re done
you lean against a miserable wall—
much to be assembled,
much to be filled,
and who will do it
if it’s not going to be you—
incapable of doing anything
inside or outside,
he has no intention of budging
from anywhere you may find him—
empty of colours,
suffering from who knows what,
he avoids your bright paintbrush,
he won’t take your cure—
you can’t deny
his value to your memory,
but the house is greatly haunted…
you’re entertaining ghosts
Poem for a Therapist
Here’s to your words, your jaw,
the way you sit in the chair
with hands flattening dress on knees
and the white manila folder
on the desk.
And you’re high-backed
while I’m set low,
not lying on a couch
as in the old cartoons.
But it’s still a conversation
between you and yourself,
one of whom is me.
And to your eyes—calm, observant—
like watching an old building implode
or a golden sunset.
And to your intent ears,
listening to what you’re telling yourself
in the guise of me.
You’ve gone beyond knowing me.
You’ve taken me over as you think I am.
You encourage me to speak,
but only to repeat
what you’re certain you already know.
I’m your patient.
But I’m also the prop.
Your walls are a collage
of diplomas, certificates
and photos from family vacations,
the ones, no doubt,
you’re certain you fully deserve.
I have none of these.
Just a body.
And maybe a mind,
when you return it to me.
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