Mike Caesar | AVES


— for D. C.


Each passing shadow a prodigy of light
Oblivious to origins.
The cloud, with the back of its hand, dismisses the brilliance of the
Grazing the darker geese below.
A dissembling vee
Its dimensions the shape of restlessness
To which I contribute my own, ceaseless, pose.
Poised along the pathway to emulate the flightlines
Of another.


All speech a beating of wings?
All wings moulting like language?
My shoes, stitched in another hemisphere, punctuate each
Aimless step.
In summer, bathers break the tension of the lake
Pale frescos splashing
Exposed like the roots of cedar over thin soil
Under trees standing, underscoring sky.


The energy and range of light
The moving shadows
Suggest that each day does in fact alight from freedom.
Time, and flight, and all they have in common
May eventually come to distinguish man, the discriminating animal.
Given time
The crocodile grows wings
The wings beat, there is flight.
New shadows are broadcast over earth.


Aves breaks the tension of town and country.
The height and the valley of the name.
The ah rising, clavicular
At the nadir of the wings
The valley of the body.
The wing tips, climaxed, suspended between stars
An image of freefall
And when downbeat
An arrow shot at heaven.


How else to apprehend you, Aves?
By the arrangement of nostrils?
The exactness of the toe bones?
A fifth secondary feather, scutes and scales on the legs
Indicate the language of taxonomy.
A bird, like free will
Points in every direction
But not at once.
Sympathetic, we fledge.


The origin of species is immanent.
As civilizations are recalled in potsherds
A dazzle of figures in fresco
The ancient, grey-mantled gull, practiced herald of prehistory
Cloaks a trigger.
Coming from within
The cry makes the beak
Sound raucous.


As beauty sets in motion
The aimlessness of observation
The wind nudges waves to the far shore,
Leaving at my feet
A thin, dry line.
Aves, surely as the offshore breeze stubbles the bay
The cadence of your name inspires flight.
Ah, the straight line, gathers speed, anticipates the coming vee
The call climbing through air.


Author’s Bio

MIKE CAESAR’s poems have been published in Arc, The Malahat Review, and The Fiddlehead. He lives in Ottawa.