While the rain slick wicks away
from the fringe weeds and shrinks
into dark-limned concrete continents,
limbed with withered peninsulas,
the wings reveal themselves, the head.

Less a bird than a totem, feathers
not feathered, wings unpinioned,
disjointed. An artistic interpretation,
chalk outline, left on the driveway
by the billow and shock of the storm
the sun sundered. Sudden things, struck
from the sky to shrivel in waste.

The throws of the grounded blast
tore down part of the rotting tree
and left this puppet of a hatchling,
unstringed, grey on orange, down-puffed,
mouth a tangerine rind slit to cry.

It may have crashed here, one bounce
and broken, or it may have been
dashed to the uncut grass with the
shatter of branches that, singed,
flew free, perching in their drop
in frames of flash, plummeting
staccato, and cracked akimbo
like a body wrecking in ratchets
down stairs. If it escaped that
scatter of limbs, walked away, safe,
then this is how far pluck carries.

Halfway across a driveway is
all survival's worth. All bodies
shellshocked curl into a shrug.

Anthony Rintala is an instructor at the University of Southern Indiana. His work has most recently been published in Kudzu Magazine, Muse: A Quarterly Journal, Ishaan Literary Review, Oklahoma Review, Copperfield Review, A Few Lines Magazine, Mad Hatter’s Review, and St. Ann's Review.

Last summer, a robin built a nest in the transom window over my front door. This coincided with my enforcing a more rigorous writing regimen,which meant I had time to stare out of that window. The end result was a clutch of poems inspired by the nest's one chick, back-lit and elastically bopping up into view. That bird, that window, and the braking flutter of the mother robin coming in to land and dangle worms: these images spawned poems that would have never been written, or written as well. Only some include the birds themselves, or my voyeurism, but they all have the same combination of emotional hush mixed with frantic energy. A tremendous, sudden, and almost momentary summer storm battered us and moved on and, after, the nest was empty. The next morning, far from the nest, I found a dead chick. It almost couldn't have been the same one, but, if it were, it was a heroic distance away. It was that impression that inspired "Thunderbird": the savage and unseen final odyssey of this tenacious, fragile thing felt heroic, almost mythical. This is my attempt to capture that dichotomy. 




Copyright 2009