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Dead Finch, and: In 27D
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Dead Finch

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 transition
to being dead things.

A live finch leaves his perch on the power line
and flits to the side of the dead finch

where he stands and flips his head quickly
from side to side,

inspecting in a hundred directions
every facet of the dead finch's motionlessness,

as if calculating angles
by 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 finch
from new vantages,

then flies again the concave arc to the birch.
And this repeats a fifth time, a tenth,

until in the distance a leaf blower roars
to life, and the live finch startles

and takes wing to the power line,
then to the distant midmorning sky.

In 27D

After hours of delay
and a particularly long layover,

the voice promising me clear blue skies
sounds 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 would
if 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 tails
across my back

enough to diet on grapes
or bike to the gym.

The housefly, the only one
I've ever seen on a plane,

caroming between seat backs
like a fire drunk on its own heat,

looks like I imagined I might
if I died in a plane crash

and was immediately shuttled back
into the living body I deserve.

If I close my eyes and let the engine noise
drown out all this useless sense,

I can hear Venus as a heron
and see God as a never-ending chest

of drawers, each
one of the infinite shades of blue,

can feel the surprising litheness
of stretched snakeskin,

and smell brush burning
on the prairie,

and my next body is the wavering sunlight
through the surface of water.

Ross White  

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.

Copyright © 2013 Louisiana State University Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Ross White. "Dead Finch, and: In 27D." Southern Review 49.2 (2013): 304-307. Project MUSE. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
White, R.(2013). Dead Finch, and: In 27D. Southern Review 49(2), 304-307. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Ross White. "Dead Finch, and: In 27D." Southern Review 49, no. 2 (2013): 304-307. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed April 10, 2013).
T1 - Dead Finch, and: In 27D
A1 - Ross White
JF - Southern Review
VL - 49
IS - 2
SP - 304
EP - 307
PY - 2013
PB - Louisiana State University Press
SN - 2168-5541
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/southern_review/v049/49.2.white.html
N1 - Volume 49, Number 2, Spring 2013
ER -


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