By Shannon Finck
A necklace of finches shivers
near the top of the bank.
They are in and out of the sun on the glass.
You can see through them,
but not their movement.
Small hollow bones
up 30 stories strain,
seeking an eave, but there are none.
This modern architecture…
These tiny vagabonds who litter brown on the ground
in parking decks, under shopping carts,
learn not to see their own reflections, not to flap against the question
of what is real. I see
images of birds cubed by winter light and shimmer,
a broken V awash in city glitter.
Gutter glitter –
the loose change lost by girls in big glasses
who wait outside the club, the sequins shaken from their dresses
as they leave it.
Girls are like birds in a hundred songs,
Girls in lines, girls in coats, girls in smoke,
girls wired with feather headbands and raising their arms
in unison, standing on bent spindly legs.
But birds are like girls in this poem.
They seek vintage, they forget their natural colors,
they waiver in lines—hip-hopping—
until what they’re looking for is gone, until no one is looking for them.
I called you to tell you,
I heard an owl near the house—
maybe because the streetlight is out
and the neighbors are gone now,
moved out and left their lawnmower, a dog toy, and a washtub
all in the crisp dead weeds.
In this arching dark, I called you.
I was by the window in my office,
back against the “M”s on my bookshelf—
McCarthy, McCullers, McEwan, Melville—
and there it was, the labored trill,
the warm, throaty question,
“Who looks for whom?”
Last spring, buying heavy plywood
to make the owl box we found in a plan on the internet,
we joked about the looking.
We built our 14x14x28 nestbox,
shingled it with roofing samples and mounted it to the farthest tree
with no expectations.
While you, shirtless, sawed and hammered,
I drank iced coffee,
caught sun on the deck in my bikini bottom and my big sunglasses.
I helped when you asked.
So close to the city, people said,
we’d never get an owl, but still
we swore we’d heard one.
We swore it even after no homeless creature—
winged or otherwise, nocturnal or otherwise—
ever even roosted.
A whole year,
the minor woodworking project of our love.
It hangs, angling South, still,
a furtively optative hollow,
a reminder of things done
with no expectations.