06.27.2008

The Phosphorescence of Thought     {The Bone Yard, for Jeff Clark}

Eleuthera. January. Bahamian berries
sweeten slowly over the winter season but March
is arid & the berries grow scarce. The island’s scrub
secretes afflicted woodland warblers whose
rapid wintering movements researchers
track in twenty-one day stretches accomplished by
tiny radio transmitters a half-gram heavy
one angel-hair wisp of antenna extends from
held
to the body
of the bird
with two
cotton
strings.
          Each
chipper
broadcasts its own
frequency.

Kirtland’s warbler, rare
as air on Mercury. The little phoenix fledged from fires
burned through stands of jack pines stretched
between Graying & Mio. Northern Michigan. Its last remaining habitat.
Entirely managed. Little fickle specialist. Its
only nest in the bottom branches of a jack pine no more
than five years old. How can the bird survive?
Woodland warbler. Forest fire thriver. No more woods.
No more fires. Black lores cleaving a gray cowl. Rainy day spotting him.
Gay speckled yellow on the breast. The largest
of the North American warblers.

Pyxgeau is their lord, a
twenty-five-thousand mile traveler, nine years old
banded by researchers as a fledgling then repeatedly rebanded
over the years, first purple, then yellow, then aluminum, then green, then orange,
blue-gray feathers his Odyssean oars, native
Michigander, bearer of migratory symbols zoodelic pathways
reveal in air to be the patterns of consciousness
recognized in its deepest retinal self—. Little
latter-day survivor. Little memory remnant of the forest world.
Little once-abundant mystery streamer.
                                                 Little prodigious
migrator. Little signaler of the end of days.

Peter O'Leary (© 2008)