It is something to be thus saved,
a point on which the landscape
comes to a deep rest.
The ore of a death held
frozen, there in the gull so far
inland, embedded in the ice
at the river’s edge. Its bulk
in the thick gloss is darker
than the ice, shoe-shaped,
only the spoon-curved head
telling you what it is, one eye
open though no longer seeing.
The feet are ribbed, like sails
tight on a mast. And a thing,
you remember, obliges by lying
down, its back to sky. How long
it has been like this, this little
a question to the world.
How small of a happening, though
it happened because
there is witness of it. The width
of water utterly silent,
the distance a pencil-smudge
of Chinese hills. First its fall,
then immersion, every air discovered
out of each quill,
its feathers matted with grit.
The day is a white octave, breathing
its snow, and the bird
delicate, like a bone inside the ear.
Iowa is from the collection Want (Sarabande Books, 2008).