88. Western Meadowlark

for Ana

Through the open car window

seven needles in a haystack


snatched by ear out of the moving

prairie, like you

already fading, passed, gone.


If I could find it, it would be

points of sunlight glancing

off a brooch so near shades

of gold in these moving

grasses I could scarcely distinguish

it from the grasses. Like you

it is always gone.


The bird pulled it off like a string

of catches on this flying

trapeze which keeps swinging

back. If birds’ songs simply mean

I’m here! I’m here!

then why a song so baroque?

How many notes did it have?

Which notes were extra?

In the Beatles’ “Blackbird”

you again hear a meadowlark, its song

canned as the slow-motion replay

of a pass-reception on TV:

Love studied into pornography,


The bird falls off a see-saw,

hesitates, picks itself

back up on the rising board,

completes its song.

It does it again.

I prefer the song that eludes me,

this one which we are passing,

banjo music picked out

(continued, no stanza break)

through wind and distance

already falling behind

gone and not gone.

— Jonathan Holden


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