Daily Archives: August 13, 2015

The Firetail

Originally posted 10/1/2012.

Just let the firetail go, 
said Papa, so I did; 
it singed me
as it flew off,

Jalil pointing wildly
at the trailing flames
as it surged away.
I screamed and Jalil screamed;
Papa aimed his long rifle
but was not able to strike,
and thus it escaped,
never to be seen again.

Our fear and pain became
a legend; to this day
people speak of the firetail
with awe, wondering how Jalil and I
caught it in the first place, how it came
to be where we were, how we were able
to approach it;  with only this story
to go on 
they wonder:
what was a firetail anyway,
what did it look like, 
was it ever a threat at all,
would we have been burned
if we had never tried to trap it?

Only Jalil and Papa and I
ever really knew the firetail,
and they are both long gone;
I am too old now
to be able to answer,
other than to tell you, truly, 
that the firetail was wondrous to see, 
terrifying to hold, utterly
real, neither bird nor human
nor spirit; I can’t describe it
even though it is the only thing
I see when my eyes are closed
and my entire life since
has been devoted
to trying.

A Certain Comfort

Outside at night to write
by lantern light, on a whim.

Should I offer a representation of 
this clean sky framed by
the strong arms
of the backyard oak?

Not tonight — the Perseids
are overhead and every 
half-minute or so a streak
makes words vanish
as I watch.

If the tree
survives the night, I will 
return to it tomorrow.
Although I am not that familiar
with hope or optimism, 

I do take
a certain foolish comfort
in the magical thinking
that there will always be
another poem.