Glass Birds in a Gorge
A high school drama teacher whose heroine,
Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire,
informed his manners, he called the sky azure,
chose, in a strange ultimatum, college over marriage,
and when assailed with truth, preferred mirage.
Wait here while I retrieve from the attic …
or so he trailed off one afternoon, gowned in lilac
velour, freshwater pearls dripping ear to ear,
having seated me at his kitchen table where,
in the middle, a bowl of pink Depression glass,
etched with blooms on a vine, brimmed with the last
month’s unopened mail. On his way down
Hank held in both hands (dense
with rhinestones) a storm window. April
evenings after a heavy rain are when the opera
of Spring crescendos to the point of—well,
you’ll see. We walked through a gorge to the falls:
whitewater pummeled the stone shoulders
four or five stories down to the cold
olivine pool, where beige foam swirled, and mist,
rising in tilted sunlight, iridesced,
a curtain of diamonds. Holding the pane
with his left hand, clutching with the right a pine
twig and his skirt, Hank lowered into the water.
Your grandmother always wanted a mystical daughter.
He waded to the middle of the pool
and held the glass against the rainbow pall.
A holographic film, condensing on the glass, grew
into a horizontal stalagmite of raw
opalino. Hank turned the frame ninety degrees
and floated it on the surface. With the twig
he sculpted the plasm, carving a stilt for each leg,
scraping V’s for plumage, twisting up the neck,
and sharpening the pinpoint beak.
The heron, cocking its bill at the water, struck,
extracted and swallowed a minnow, slick
as it wriggled down to the viscera, where its tail-
fin slapped the belly’s inner wall until
the bird beat cellophane wings, melted into air
like paraffin, and the fish fell to its aquatic air.
Christopher Hewitt is a poet and educator. Originally from Dallas, Texas, he holds graduate degrees from Stanford and Cornell, where he currently teaches. His work has appeared in 32 Poems, Riprap, and Porter House Review, and has been nominated for Best New Poets.