How to Settle by Gary McDowell

Tie the body. In knots. Against itself. How
to undress the horizon-line, the glint of
after-fog when a pair of geese split
the low clouds loud and angry. I measure
their wing-beats, the musculature heave
of their effort, the sound they make against
the over-ripe air. Not resistance exactly,
but pressure adjacent the tongue-tied skyline,
some long haul I don’t understand. I tuck
my hands into my back pockets, posture
my chest skyward. If I had wings. If I
could listen to each feather, how they filter,
lift lustrous their hollow bones—how would I know
what was above me if I couldn’t tremble in it.
Gary McDowell is the author of the forthcoming book Aflame, winner of the 2019 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. He’s also the author of Caesura: Essays (Otis Books, 2017) and five previous collections of poetry, most recently Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016). His work has recently appeared in The Nation, American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, and Gulf Coast. He’s associate professor of English at Belmont University and lives near Nashville with his family.