Learning My Lesson by Megan Merchant

I tried to repair the fractured vase
with a hairline of glue, but my fingers
met in prayer and stuck.
A man complains that his spiritual practice
is under attack, which is why he refuses
to call his senators, demand sensible change.
He talks to god instead, the one
who cannot be voted out no matter
how vengeful the scourge, how persistent
the flood, how threatened the survival.
I dream a list of species gone extinct—
Dodo, White Dolphin, Passenger Pigeon—
bodies I will never transmigrate
into for a next life. I will never embody
a flock dropping down a fall of water,
or tipping the surface
with drooped wings, nor crave
the taste of beechnut &
acorn after miles of saltless wind.
Whatever the element that persists—my
soul, or pneuma, or atman, might
never have the chance to stitch
the flaws I leave un-seamed in this life,
to learn the lessons I need to progress
into something more enlightened than
basement-level human.
If thoughts & prayer would bring them back
and I could choose—I would level-up
to the passenger pigeons that migrate each
spring and overwhelm a forest until all
of the branches sag with a tetris of nests,
and the men, so afraid, drop their guns to run.
Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review. You can find her work at meganmerchant.wix.com/poet.