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One Bird and Another

Once upon a time
we used to talk about a bird—
a bird from nowhere
brought us levity  
and laughter.

One winter night—yes
it was a winter night—a bird
came to us while we were soundly
sleeping. Neither of us saw it.
In the morning we saw—sun on glass—
its small shadow printed, staying
for a long time, refusing to leave.

Then, we started to hate winter,
the long slumber.
We put a red lamp outside
so its light would tell our bird
we were waiting.

Then vines full of grapes grew
in our yard. We kept the windows
open, remembering: bird.

One Sunday, the sky was
overcast, but it wasn’t raining.
We went out together and bought
me a new blouse from a boutique.

When it got dark, we went
to a crowded restaurant
and each had two bowls of dumplings.
On the way back we
were quiet, not saying a word,
feeling slightly uneasy.

Arriving home, we saw
the lamp flickering in the yard
and a handful of green grapes on the porch.
We stopped walking
and looked up then
together lowered our heads—
the bird had come and gone. We murmured
but didn’t dare to speak
worried it would never return.

The door was open
and red light streamed out.
There was a piece of paper with pre-written lines,
although you couldn’t write a word.
I wanted to try on my new clothes
but I couldn’t undress.

The bird, again, the bird.

5.1983