When, like your narcissus, I go to sleep

When she was young
she would sit, singing birdsong trills
and madrigals in her ptarmigan throat.

We were green flesh.
Our thoughts ran together, acid and restless,
and she sang when she was nineteen,
on a California rail,
her voice in the Big Sur fog.

I built her a wedding bed
from pine and mountain hemlock.
We sleep between our whittled angels.

But she no longer sings.
In our wedding bed
her eyes weep diamonds
pressed by the moon
from some ancient pain,
from a cavernous pain.

When I enter her
she oils the sheets,
resinous as a Lebanese tree.

She rests her eyes
from their inlaying
on my arm, her walnut eyes.
There is no wealth
that does not come
from the body of my lover.

Rising for work,
with a handful of gems,
we sweep away the bloodstones
of her grieving.

Cleaning Birdhouse

We are always children, really.
Every animal death is the death of love —
not dependent love,
not mom or dad, however deep,
but the first one we knew ourselves
separate and complete,
that made us separate and complete,
and so in an awful unexpected way
the death of us.

The schoolyard girl, the girl with the bangs,
the unborn twin, the boy down the block,
the collie at Christmas.
No one loved for us, none loved as we did.

The day after I put it up
house wrens built their nest
in the new birdbox,
ferrying sweetgrass and sprigs of sumac
through a hole in the neat shiplap.

It was a fine bright thing:
white pine and brass catches,
one wall and the roof hinged at the top
for cleaning out.

But at the end of summer,
cleaning it out, I stopped,
grabbed the shovel from the shed,
dug a foot-deep pit on the ridge,
above the cottonwood and the creek,
and buried the old nest there.

I drove to town in my middle age
with a well, a wound in my throat,
an organ of need, twig, and skin
wanting all of it again,
the gaping breath and the whole bone,
sure that I could not be,
after all, just a part of this.

That by now I must be hardened off,
complete as flight,
not running edgeless
into the rest of the world,

and not undone by the fledgling
left dead in the nest
his perfect unwrapped
new-brown feathers
a miniature of grief.