January - Melanie Carter
Already the starlings the wind whips
eastward are circling back
like a crown to their beginning.
On the ground below, the headstones
turn even the quiet maples
into chiseled monuments, sculpted boughs.
If one dark bird could grant
a wish, I'd ask to see the scepter
that directs this flight, that carves
a track so clearly in the air
these birds could fall into their sleep
and weave themselves back
to barren branches (their name alone
could make small sparks sing
in the fine trees, these tall trees).
I want to say that the man who could be king
is already my father (fine bones;
tall enough even to press his head
against the fragile hat these birds
are making with their thorny wings).
But he is gone, and the villagers have all gone
home and hung up their black coats.
I had not thought possible this plenty,
these songs unfastened from the empty trees.