Jack tells me his brother refusedto buy a house after he waveda voltage meter about the placeand discovered a strong electromagneticfield in the room that would have beenhis daughter’s. I’ve read that a pigeonreleased 500 miles from home at dawncan fly back by dusk and thishas something to do with particlesin the pigeon’s head and the earth’smagnetic field. Jack now sleeps on a matembedded with electrical wires;he plugs it into the wall. Grounded, he says.I learn that we—electrical beings—walk around unable to dissipateour potential, and so, for one week,I give a dollar to everyone who asks for oneon the subway and monitor my stateto see if this makes me feel betteror worse. Inconclusive.
All of the starlingsin North America are descendantsof those brought here in the 1800sby the American Acclimatization Societyto fill Central Park with every speciesmentioned in Shakespeare. The native specieswere outcompeted, changing the ecosystemirrevocably. A saw-whet owl shelteringin the cedar closes his eyes and fadesinto the bark. Once, in a cabin in the woods,I opened my eyes the way a leafless treesenses the lengthening of days and found [End Page 52] a juvenile deer sunlit and still on my porch.It shivered at the edges of its beinglike a blossoming cherry tree.
The unexpectedgrace of the world undoes me at times as whena woman appears at a wildlife rehab centerwith a shoebox of opossums in hand.She saw the mother hit by a taxi,checked the pouch, and pulled out twelvebarely furred babies, now nestledin the fleece that lines their shoebox.I place my hand inside, and they snuffleand lean into my warmth.
Jack insistshe sleeps better on his mat. I ask if hebelieves in the whole electromagnetic thing—not the physical force but the supposedtherapeutic effects—and he says no,but, being the child of two psychologists,he does believe in the placebo effect. [End Page 53]
MICHELLE Y. BURKE’s debut poetry collection, Animal Purpose, won the 2015 Hollis-Summers Poetry Prize and will be published by Ohio University Press in spring 2016.