|Alberto Ríos [ASU]|
from Alberto Ríos 's The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body:
Common Crows in a Winter Tree
The birds, they make this happen.
In the sky with nothing else to do, a Saturday,
The slow knee-bend of an afternoon, out there.
I have seen them myself.
The birds caw down a rain, tease it
To a hard ground of grass and flat and edge.
The birds, they cannot stop — they are birds.
They play when they do it. They don't mean it
When the rain reaches bottom.
But there is so much rain, and it listens
So well. Who would not, like the birds,
Try other things, try to train this water
To tricks, and to laughter? Circus
Ringmaster to a thousand lions of water:
Rain do this: And again: And now this.
To get away from the birds, the rain tries a mask:
It becomes snow, a show of wings, the flakes
Drunk moths in an aimless, cool wander.
Then it is ice, a trick again, rain
Turning into tiny fists without skin.
Hailstones, each a clutch of finger-bones,
Brittle, as much dry as wet. Rain to snow,
Then ice, then bone. Then more,
To skulls, and teeth, breaking against the earth
In a white fireworks of cruelty.
The birds, they get carried away, they cannot
Do a small thing or make a quiet noise.
But the birds do not mean it, this
Teasing of the sky to tears. They are birds —
They caw at anything, at little boys
Walking, boys who will look up.
And a loud caw, it will draw the boys, lift them
A little, until they cry. The birds
Do not mean to frighten,
But neither do they mean not to frighten,
Not to lift a boy into a branch
The way boys will go, lift a boy to a second
Branch, higher. The boys will go.
They cry at first, but they rise.
They are boys, and these are birds.
And the rain is falling. It makes a sound
Until snow, which is itself a sound,
Bigger and smaller than the moment before.
The boys come down from climbing, the boys who were lifted
Into trees, the boys who were birds.
The birds make their noise again, at something else.