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Paul Meier reading

An Evening Question

by Alan Harris
Blackbirds crackle random
sonic pepper under fading skies
at end of day when silence
brings more pain to birds
than sounds held in can bear.

Up west, three backlit
afterclouds, blue-gray,
suggest a breathless blessing,
outer sky to inner eye.

Two robins try antiphony
positioned fence to fence
and trade their choruses
across a subtlety of dew.

Overhead, a helicopter's growl
subdues the singing birds
who observe a silent minute
waiting for the bully to be gone.

Next door, the dog
barks out his being
at something heard or felt
and with each bark
a girl shouts "Shut up!"
until he does.

A cat comes walking by,
surprised at me,
too close,
but quickly taking care
to show no fear.

Quietly alert,
I stare across
this outdoor table--
top all strewn with
wings of maple seeds
delayed from
reaching earth--
and I bow within.

My breath amazed
at simple dusk,
I fold in half,
and half, and half,
until there's hardly any I.

This enigmatic sky
now closing day
with fake finality
while straddling
yin and yang
abstains from answering
my wordless
evening question.

From the book Flies on the Ceiling (1999)

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