Anne Haines

A Field Guide, A Map

1. Bowerbird

On my TV, kept on
for company,
a bowerbird
makes a nest of shells, bones, pebbles
all of them white
this small brown speckled bird
dreaming of another
who will inspect his treasures,
mate, and leave to raise
her young.

Me, I make piles of words,
collect lines and phrases
when something about their shape
moves me.
Travel is never easy.
I am the nest of bones
cached over time,
deliberately staged.

Not the last of his species,
this bowerbird, not
like the lonely po'ouli
solitary on the slopes of Haleakala—
but more desperate,
creating his makeshift nest,
placing each item just so.

And just so
these words,
and everything I’ve lost,
refused, or left behind.

2. Doe

The fore
foot of
the deer
that grazed
the edge
of the car
before she spun
on three legs
and galloped back
into the woods’ edge

and my own safe distance

3. Thirty Vultures,

the complicated
flock of them,
riding interlaced thermals.
In the woods there
must be death.
From here I cannot see
the birds’ red skulls,
unfeathered for dipping
into gore.
All I see from here is wings—
broad and certain—
black and silver against
this early evening sky.

I circle round. I watch.

I drive faster into
my high beams
because I know my own safety,
this open road I’m on.


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