BY RYAN TEITMAN
When our eyes can’t adjust
to the fog of late light burning
off under a heat of darkness,
a black flower blooms
for a single minute,
and the bees waiting for its nectar
die of thirst. They drop one by one
into a furry pile around the stem,
not knowing that the scarcity
of its opening fails to make the juice
any sweeter. We lie when we think
that the rare and the sacred
are like twin, unborn colts—legs tangled
as they float in the barrel
of their mother’s belly. A girl keeps
a halved pear in a jar by her bedside
and says that it’s her dead puppy’s ear,
so everyone believes her
when she kisses the glass container
goodnight, and carries it on walks
around the neighborhood. You can learn
the most horrible things, if you listen
in the moment between night and day.
I would name that moment, but to name it
would make it grow, would give old women
the leisure to kneel at the altar and light
candle after candle to ward it all away.
I won’t let it have a cadence
of the commonplace. I won’t let
my mother’s botany book grow any bigger.
I won’t let the neighborhood kids catch
another creature from my dreams,
like the day two boys
dipped a hawk in gasoline,
and tossed it into the night
with its wings still burning.
We didn’t know what to do when the deer
tangled his antlers in the rusty spokes
of the landfill bicycle at the edge
of town, so we rode
from street to street, leaving
baskets of baby fish
at the doors of every church
we could find. Pray for the filly
with the lame leg. Pray for the father
with the iron burn on his thigh.
Pray for the moon to float down
like a lost paper lantern
that finds a midnight funeral
and settles—still smoldering—
on the bare, burning branches
that cradle the ashes of a hawk.
RYAN TEITMAN is currently an MFA student in creative writing at Indiana University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, The Pinch, Puerto del Sol, Third Coast, and other journals. “Ode to a Hawk with Wings Burning” appeared in Issue 22.2-Summer/Fall 2010.