Dear Blackbird,

The first summer after you left rolled in as a white & fine grained fog. The question became not: Where had you gone—but one of location, nevertheless, behind what curtain:

The little farmhouse, its sputtering truck & tin shed. The field where trysting lovers met. The dissolution of it all.

& I in a shrunken, hangdog coat. Eternal straw & soddenly present.

Then came a clamor of birdsong, returning:

Grackle, eagle, wild turkey. The silvery voice of a thrush in the thicket. Mockingbird perched on a branch by the highway. Each song brilliant. No song abiding—

it is not, so much, your image I miss.

But neither the farmer nor his wife nor you, Blackbird, came to restore me. So come, hail & damnation. Come, anyone. Come, wind. When the crows descended, I welcomed them.

That is how I became an heaven for crows, by loving their footfall on my shoulders. So learning the language of crows & bidding them: Come, stay, eat.

I wish I could tell you then, you would not find the corn in ruins, my trodden form in a heap by the ditch—

but that is what becomes of one who makes an Elysium of grief.

The second summer you were gone sprang from a reclamation of weeds banded round my clothing & always this dream:

I am chaff lilting slightly over a swift & stone worn creek & from here I have only one thing left to ask:

What part of me—were you?

Truly as was & as
ever will be