Nocturne: For the Aviaries

Joshua Poteat

Then the rain came,
                 full of a sadness I’ve never seen before,
through the cottonwoods

                 and along the river,
which is no longer a river
                                 but an apparition under the sand.

Had I five hummingbirds,
                 I would make a love charm
and string them from the tongue

                 of a small copper bell in those branches,
                                necks hovering together, broken.

Had I a swan, it would sleep
                 under the hives
with a bucket of fresh milk,
                                with the splintered white faces of goats.

To reclaim or take apart the night,
                 like the city does, carving through
the blind river?
                                The brilliant debris of stars, the air?

Nothing in this world is ours.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro
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JOSHUA POTEAT lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he works as an editor. His book manuscript, Ornithologies, was recently named a finalist for the T.S. Eliot First Book Award and for the Philip Levine First Book Award.