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ODE, ELEGY, AUBADE, PSALM

Ryan Teitman

1
The songbird that escapes
from a burning house
will build its nest
in the shape of a cage.

2
This is one thing
we know: song begs
for the places that make it
grow from seed to starling,

3
places that put the heart's hemlock
in an empty rowboat
and heave it from the shore.

4
We only praise what we cannot
keep: violin strings berried with rain,
teacups overflowing with brandywine,
radios sickened with static.

5
Glass tossed out with the tide
will come back smoother and stranger,
but never to the same person.

6
This is something we want
to know. The woman in love
never touches her ears.

7
The man in his house is always lost
without her.

8
Morning pulls light
from the dark like a boy
hoisting a trout from the lake
by its clean, pink gills.

9
When the woman escapes
from a burning house
she will know the path of the wind,

10
how it writes its scripture
in peach blossoms blown
into a baby's empty pram.

11
She'll feel it compose its words
against her body, against the night,
against the water, in an endless, artless psalm.

 

 

 


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This poem was written after many reads of Larry Levis's collection Elegy.