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BIRDS AGAIN
by Jim Harrison

A secret came a week ago though I already

knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.

The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds

are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.

I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite —
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation

and now they’re roosting within me, recalling

how I had watched them at night

in fall and spring passing across earth moons,

little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing

on their way north or south. Now in my dreams 

I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,

the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying

me rather than me carrying them. Next winter

I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado

and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching

on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye

and I’ll return my dreams to earth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Harrison is the author of thirty books, including Legends of the Fall, Dalva, and Shape of the Journey. His work has been translated into two dozen languages and produced as four feature-length films. In 2007, Mr. Harrison was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He divides his time between Montana and southern Arizona.

Painting: “L’Homme au Chapeau Melon” (1964) by René Magritte