Not the snake, his tongue all italics,
nor rivers in loll and meander.
Not the road that leads straight nowhere,
nor the ghost all billows hovering.
Perhaps this wren’s call bitter and sharp,
orders I should follow, find my way.
Perhaps these stones or under them,
that twisting trail that fades and fails.
Not this smell of wet earth lying in wait.
Not the night but its middle, staked hole.
Perhaps the piled and fallen snow,
but not its fierce crystals rattling
this crooked twisting line all knot
and nether, quick to resent its planting.
Acroke that jab of lightning from fat
God-on-cloud teeth all white bite,
and all the teeth that bite and ragged tear,
the shepherd’s crook, the cook’s keen crock,
the last and first break in marrow bone
stitch crooked across, bind bitter bond.
The wren’s stark shout that I come out
and see its jagged nest made round.
Charles Wyatt‘s first full-length poetry collection, Goldberg-Variations, is forthcoming from Carolina Wren Press in 2015.