Original Wanderings

When you say The Byrds,
you mean the folk rock band
that sang about tambourines

and loneliness. It was a cover.
I hear the throaty call
of a red-winged blackbird,

slurred and vague
like memories of ornithology

field trips and dusty binoculars,
lost deep in the cattails.
They surround the lake

of workers cleaning windows
and tall empty hotels, vacancies
in the park and the eyes

of the clock tower with swallows
in its brain, getting the song
of midnight stuck in its head.

In the sleeping river
dreaming of skinny-dippers,
a silver sculpture twists,

rises from her subconscious
and becomes a statue of a bird,

standing on her stilted legs
with the bent, worried knees
of a heron, a robin’s breast.

Blackbird’s wings,
tipped with crimson clouds

and yellow rain that bleeds
into black water.

Each bird’s structure
fits awkwardly in place

like puzzle pieces
or my bones.

The statue’s head is small
with the swallow’s beak
singing the original wanderings
across the sky

in the voice of Bob Dylan
whom you love.

As she flies overhead, you point.
Look, you say. She has brown eyes.

Just like mine.

Ben Read lives in Spokane, Washington, where he is a junior at Lewis and Clark High School. He has been recognized by inroads, RiverLit, Airplane Reading, and The Adroit Journal. Other than writing, he likes to assault people with philosophy while participating in speech and debate, attend and read at local poetry slams in tiny coffee and burrito shops, and listen to music similar to the Juno soundtrack. He wishes his dog Wally would be a better muse, but until then, he’ll have to stick with the river.

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