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January 2014, vol 9, no 4

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Steven Carter

Last Week in September

. . . Woke up remembering a solitary bird—a thrush, I think—its wing caught somehow in the screen door grillwork.

As I carefully pulled it free it attacked me furiously, twisting and pecking before flying off in a huff.

Well! I never—

It’s as if—this was my impression—the little guy was actually angry at being given its freedom: having settled in to the idea of death, anything less seemed insupportable.

A few hundred feet off the deck the bird was joined by three or four others.

They flew higher: a caravansary of death-wishes bumping into clouds pregnant with rain.

(Just like that—groans of thunder giving birth to the ghost of Yeats. . . I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.)

Later that day, after re-reading a chapter of Walden I take the obligatory walk in the woods.

—There, backlit by leaves floating on russet light, like a Parkinson’s sufferer one solitary leaf—one!—trembles in the breeze. (I think of the thrush in love with easeful death.)

I don’t understand how one leaf can move, while the others—some less than an inch away—don’t budge.

—Pick a mystery, any mystery . . .

Deep woods
Sounds of green