Aperture

When you constrain freedom, it will take flight and land on a windowsill.
Ai Weiwei

It was a lighthouse first,
graywacke iced with the shit of seabirds,
guiding ships away, steering them clear.
the very opposite of keeping and holding.

What we notice about prisons,
even this one in San Francisco Bay,
are not walls, but everywhere windows,
cracked spectacularly,
small and thick as paperback books.

And then fissures, pierced stone,
elaborate grates in the floors of gun galleries.
We cannot build a wall without needing to puncture it,
to make the windowsills
on which freedoms perch.

There are jails, we know
and there are prisoners,
but always there is an opening,
a cracked glass too wide for despots,
and through it, sweet and punishment,
the shape-thought of a gull in the fog,
the blade of its cry
so sharp it cannot be held,
not even in the heart.

The Gulls on Alcatraz

They’ll eat anything,
the Western Gulls on Alcatraz,
so sometimes you can find
on the rocks at the base of the island
or on the cracked and splintered yard
where the cons worked out
tennis balls and bright yellow golf balls
the birds brought over and dropped,
thinking they were mussels or oysters,
some kind of unfamiliar shellfish
the fall would break
and not the crap we lose or toss out,
all things finding their way
to the sea as they do.

And I understand their confusion
when the balls hit the ground and bounce
high in the air, intact and inedible.

I also have made it this far,
tired from looking,
the junk of another world in my jaws

and I also recover,
beat away again across the flat bay,
sure that tomorrow,
on this same slipshod ground,
out of the deep cerulean blue
a bird will land,
the moon in his mouth
and his whole head
shot through with light.