One Poem by Ingrid Wendt

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Ode to the Long-Tailed Grackle

Rusty Hinge, Old Squeaky Door, Dishes Crashing to the Floor,
You call this Song, you Rowdy Castanet? I call it a martial

art of the beak, and most days, you win, you stun me awake.
But some days I rise even earlier, climb—while the rest of the world

sleeps—the steps to my terrace to greet the sun all by myself. And still you streak
to your everyday perch on my rooftop peak (you Sleek Bullet with Wings). You notice me

not at all. Croaking your morning declaration to each of the four
directions, you bristle. Your tail, that slender, foot-long ruler, flails

the air between you and the whole, green horizon with every sky-splitting shriek
and minor-key cackle, if ever we wanted a bright, golden-eyed flaunting of

Proud Possession, you are surely it. But only at dawn. I don’t know what
you do the rest of the day, or where you go to sleep. Last night the air                                                                                                

was full of mystery: giant rings around the moon, wispy things                                          
like clouds, as though the moon had drawn them together from all the sky, till dawn

they were under a spell. But you, my Jungle Jackhammer, challenge even the sun.
How dare it rise without your shrill permission, your hot fat sizzling

cracking open the whole eastern horizon—as well as my sleep?
And so to save myself, I strategize: what I can’t control, I can admire

(and go to bed earlier). Oh, such shimmering, black iridescence,
such swashbuckling glimmering. Golden eyes to leave me quivering.

Eyes that could snare me, stop my heart. And then,
Sweetheart, you open your mouth.




Ingrid WendtIngrid Wendt has published eight books, including a teaching guide, two anthologies, and five books of poems, most recently Evensong. Her many honors include the Oregon Book Award and a D.H. Lawrence Fellowship. Recent poems appear in CALYXAbout Place, and Claw & Blossom and new poems are forthcoming in POETRY. She and her late husband, poet and writer Ralph Salisbury, once spent three months at Ondarte, in the Yucatán, where this poem began.
Header photo of grackle by Ingrid Wendt. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.