When the birds fly up suddenly off the thistle-seed sock,
all 20-30 of them in one stroke, one puff of wind, one
chirp, you might wonder who said what to whom;
what signal was it? You wonder if maybe you too
should get up from your chair and run. Like riding a bus
in a country where you don’t know the language;
mountain road without guardrails, the gorge half a mile below;
one lone pig tied to the roof, screaming.
You look around at the faces of the people
whose country you’re in, and they seem calm, sunlight
cupping each face, babies sleeping.
So you go back to your day dreaming, that dalliance
you keep with your mouth shut.
Like it was an honor to not be one of the ones who panic.
Who fling up the arms, run shouting every which way
into the night. At the slightest. Like that flock of finches
flown up off my deck, gone back to the trees.
Thistle in their beaks.
Frozen lake with its patches of blue and gray;
as far as I can see, nothing out there moving.
Carol Potter is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent of which Otherwise Obedient was a finalist for the Lambda Literary award in LBGT poetry in 2008. Another previous book, The Short History of Pets (1998) won the Cleveland State Poetry Center award. Recent publications include poems in Field, Hanging Loose, River Styx, and forthcoming in Calyx and Sinister Wisdom.