The dead finch on the porch:perhaps the cat brought it as a trophy,
and placed it like a gift between the flowerpots.Perhaps it simply lay down there,
as living things do when they finally transitionto being dead things.
A live finch leaves his perch on the power lineand flits to the side of the dead finch
where he stands and flips his head quicklyfrom side to side,
inspecting in a hundred directionsevery facet of the dead finch's motionlessness,
as if calculating anglesby which they might escape together.
The live finch bolts into flight,dipping just below the straightest path
to the birch across the street.The live finch returns, chirps,
jerks his neck to examine the dead finchfrom new vantages, [End Page 304]
then flies again the concave arc to the birch.And this repeats a fifth time, a tenth,
until in the distance a leaf blower roarsto life, and the live finch startles
and takes wing to the power line,then to the distant midmorning sky. [End Page 305]
After hours of delayand a particularly long layover,
the voice promising me clear blue skiessounds like I imagined God
would when he asked me to forgive.And the stewardess
pushing a cart toward me,with her smart, ruby lips,
thick eyelashes,and unconventional snakeskin boots,
looks like I imagined Venus wouldif she wagged a finger at me,
inviting me to something forbidden.Michelangelo's David,
on the cover of the in-flight magazine,flexes the chest I thought I'd have
if I could work shame's nine tailsacross my back
enough to diet on grapesor bike to the gym.
The housefly, the only oneI've ever seen on a plane, [End Page 306]
caroming between seat backslike a fire drunk on its own heat,
looks like I imagined I mightif I died in a plane crash
and was immediately shuttled backinto the living body I deserve.
If I close my eyes and let the engine noisedrown out all this useless sense,
I can hear Venus as a heronand see God as a never-ending chest
of drawers, eachone of the infinite shades of blue,
can feel the surprising lithenessof stretched snakeskin,
and smell brush burningon the prairie,
and my next body is the wavering sunlightthrough the surface of water. [End Page 307]
Ross White is the 2012 winner of the James Larkin Pearson Award from the Poetry Council of North Carolina. With Matthew Olzmann, he edited Another and Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series. His work has appeared in New England Review, The Greensboro Review, and on Poetry Daily. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.