Poem - Birckelbach - Marianne Moore

  You Should Be Here, Marianne Moore


, to explain this mystery: a bird
has built his nest in that
mesquite tree yonder. Brave thing, or foolish more like.
Regardless, there's no feline that I
know gaunt enough to squander paws on a misstep.
Too chancy, too slick a bark,

too meager a mouthful for the trip
down. But more, what zephyr
led that bird though mealy, prickly maze? What secret
knowledge was it that guaranteed its
privacy, guarded fledging chicks? What fatigue of
wing? What urgency? What sight?

I saw a telling photo of you
once, Marianne. You were
bent over, furtive almost, standing beside a
herd of elephants, caught in the act,
listening, sagely private, learning ancient rhythms
that the most of us won't know.

I wonder, Marianne: If you joined
me, rocking, on this porch
would you dissemble, twig by twig, for me that nest;
would you describe gentle, grey footfalls;
or would you close your eyes, sigh, rock, and say, "...how the
wizened boards sing, song, sing, song..."?


by Alan Birkelbach

from Alan Birkelbach, New and Selected Poems

As heard on Texas Poets Podcast, October, 2015