Michael Collier

Birds Appearing in a Dream

One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi,

another a tail of color-coded wires.

One was a black bird stretching orchid wings,

another a flicker with a wounded head.


All flew like leaves fluttering to escape,

bright, circulating in burning air,

and all returned when the air cleared.

One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower,


deep in the ground, miles from water.

Everything is real and everything isn’t.

Some had names and some didn’t.

Named and nameless shapes of birds


at night my hand can touch your feathers

and then I wipe the vernix from your wings,

you who have made bright things from shadows,

you who have crossed the distances to roost near me.




“Birds Appearing in a Dream” is from Dark Wild Realm (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).