Finalist : Terrain.org 9th Annual Contest in Poetry
Draft for a Maquette
On Keith Andrews’ Sculpture at Rensing Center
The birds here have practiced sly—
they so clearly know I watch;
They poise in the trees,
hide head nods, wing flicks, blinks.
The leaves, the ones shaped like
long green eyes, look back at me—
seeing being seen, a trick like art’s.
It’s paper birch, I learned.
The fallen in layers—birch, maple,
pin oak—lair the groundlings:
beetles whose toothed
forearms are jaws; three kinds
of ants, little infinities with heads;
crickets who’ll fiddle thighs
tonight from under
some of which the sculptor will mold
onto the clay figures:
they’ll be be-leaved,
children of earth, sublimed.
Alchemy’s everywhere here.
His clay maquette’s
a nominalist poet’s dream:
Hebrew letters one side,
human forms seamlessly joined
on the other. The figures act
what the letter’s shape implies:
One bends back, hair
streaming earthward, hands reaching
up, away from the ground
that flecks and earths him:
It others both. The four letters say
“Thou mayest,” and maybe
“Thou mayest not.”
They all mime God, whose word
both is and does.
Is that why the birds hide?
They must speak Hebrew:
their round and crested bodies
sound the Oh’s and Ah’s elided
from God’s secret names,
vowels, vowed to secrecy,
flickering behind the leaves,
the woods their words.
God of the Faded Blue Pickup
Red star maple, green star
maple, cloud a blue eye
pokes into: you’re there,
aren’t you? Who idles
in the aisles that poplars’ fat arrows
pierce and boat, in the woods we are
perched in, on the deck, my eyerie,
in my I’lls and I’ds. You imbue
even the pick-up, a faded gray blue,
which totes a red lawn mower,
a green tool box, and who
or what else I can’t see, as you
or it or he or she passes below, little lives
and deaths and loves, dust, dents,
Come now. Let me see you,
who churr in mother bird, warble
falling-water bird’s two bars—
he says them over and over, they are
so clear, so what he longs to say.
dieseling the next truck, homage
to your native fire, bound and ringed.
Maybe you even trip out
on unlikelihoods mapped
eons ago—inventions that can’t
surprise you, who divined
the splendors and horrors
we can imagine.
Now the dog barks four
at a time, an owning or warning
that fissures the sky for hours.
You might fit that furrow
once you decide
to be ours. Are you the after-
ward, widening the silence
that guards you?
Will I know it for yours?
Ee-Er, Ee-Er, video, video
says another bird, who probably
also is you.
Header photo by Don Pablo, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Mary B. Moore by Toril Lavender.