Between a Dragonfly & an Osprey

in the melody, the breaking was faint.
but it was there like this love between a dragonfly and an osprey.
Chiwan Choi, from The Yellow House
All the house is caterwauling

with dangling aaaayes, brays
that dodge and feint, breaths
that meet, mingle, vacillate,
climb, rock, & catapult, crowing
into outer space. Now 
a monthly ache  breaks to gravy 
(womb & belly) or the grave—dagger
twisted to the hilt, a tortured stabbing
—& all my body again is rattling 
(gawking golly at its gears & grates)—
gray bay, some shushed Monet, & in the port
of pain a snow globe docks, full of crouching
cats & widows’ walks (at the ready for shaking up)—
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
& now, yes, slowly pluck— (“Ow!

Mow!” the feral cats outside cry,
convulsing heatstruck to saunter
off & lie in wait for us)— you’re
culling all the consonants so only
my vowels can purr & plead,
winnowed out of me (outside they
roll & wrestle, loll & shriek) & now
slung high higher all our lists &
problematics, posturing & panic’s
heaved to the high-flung seas (&
the door’s unjambed, the windows
falter, & all the house is 
caterwauling).
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
At the ready for shaking up, rag-

time packs its punches on the packet yacht, 
a syncopation pitched one up—feet pound, torso 
cocks, & now a breeze parts the afternoon like Moses 
cleaving the Red Sea (& you beside me impersonate 
ducks wra wra wra like a motor while real ducks 
paddle by three single file, & a fourth struggles 
a yard behind), & we are three, jittery, drifting 
in & out of focus, backlit at the prow, & we’re 
two rising in & out of depth, who’ve clung 
together in fits buffeting a four-poster bed, & I 
am one pulsing mimosas & piano jive, mouthful 
of hair whipped from behind, head bopping 2/4 
time, as the river breaks three ways & one 
splits to ride a balustrade.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
Dripping Tyrian purple 
on your lips & neck,

I’ve again fallen
back upon the spread, buoyed 
by tales of lucky crossings 
& horseshoes mounted
upside down, cathedral 
naves & buttresses splayed 
to wake the day. We’re wreaking 
maroon on the room when you 
angle from the side, swift,
eyes wide as skylights, 
closing in—& the whole 
world’s gone
cerulean.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
Gone, the world—cerulean

or not. Lost a toss
up. Coughed up a shock. 
If I loved you, I loved you staggering 
in lurch. If you left me, you left me the last wind-
up clock. It won’t stop ticking, aspirates 
though my lungs have been plundered
& my heart’s a ruin of gears that won’t budge. 
There are springs hooked into me 
that I can’t unhitch. They grapple & claw. 
Burnished blunders glow like coals. The cock 
caws, but it cannot crow. So many fears
I’ve caught & saddled, boldly straddled. 
Then I’ve been thrown.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
If, in the blue noon, my body 

of windows gasps & cracks, all my shutters rattle 
like a storm’s approaching fast, shutters
of ankles & hips, shutters of toenails & skin—
rat a tat tat shudders groin & arching back, lips 
elbows rat a tat—& all my jambs yowl 
like feral cats, frames bloat heatstruck,
panes convulse, contract, implode, aspirate 
& shatter aack aaack awwww aaaaa—
& above beneath within between you’re asking 
a question that blooms in me like a tulip, & I 
am begging you to inhale its sepals all at once 
(can’t you see this gaping hole where a wind-
ow was?), & now, yes, slowly, pluck—
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
If/when sunset’s seeping

—my body of windows gasps & cracks—
maybe a window is inside out. Maybe it was hung
like a song with the chorus torn out. Between the wind-
ow & the frame is a gap. The gap is expansive, glad-
handing all the intruders or guests: One is a snarled
lullaby drifting out of a throng. One is a sodden
name for thorn. One is a katydid playing the role
of a leaf. She’s given away by her tremulous wings. 
She plods across my pillow, drags one rear leg like a bum
deal. Every window is a caesura. Every maimed katydid
is a gap in flight. I was impersonating a maple leaf 
in autumn, feverish & brash, until I lost myself 
in the camouflage & got blown back. Maybe window 
is a portmanteau of wind & ow!—or is it wind & awe? 
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
One splits to ride a balustrade, 

flinging five o’clock shadows
in our way & prizing rockfish 
from the banks, shad & blue-
backs primed to eviscerate. 
An osprey ferries fish to boxed-
in nests, & I’m a box that smells 
of cedar & wax, iron, rye, & sass-
afrass, ink & scoresheets 
from balderdash. I’m a draw-
bridge above you that writhes 
& contracts, dripping
Tyrian purple
on your lips & neck.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
Or is it wind & awe?

Since you tore the floor 
out from under
me, I have taken 
to levitating. I just recline, 
and the air beneath me 
calcifies. It is holding me up 
like an oath. It is holding 
me in like a song. Have you 
ever heard a song 
rocked in the breath,
in the hull? It’s rising 
between the ribs 
of the boat. It’s driving 
in the pitch of the pulse.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
The din is marvelous:

air thick with buzz &
cackle, thrum & trill, too
stiff to breathe— up–
chuck gulping muck. Have
you ever seen a shuttle–
cock gag? All agog in flight
& awe, chokes biting the
 net & falls. I won’t be
 felled (& you?)—roiling in
 blue. Sunset bleeds into
the line of hickories,
flexes— its shriveled
tourniquet seeping.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey
Then I’ve been thrown

into the pitch, 
an unhinged beam 
split & raked to silt. 
My long arms evaporate,
lean spleen distends, thrashes 
my gut, a jilted sail passing 
wind. I am docked 
in a burnt-out dream. 
It rocks underfoot, writhes
in vertiginous seas.
I want to levy a tax
on trust. Moored in glass, 
shored in tin & teal—splint-
ering, the din is marvelous.
      
Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey

About this Poem

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Between a Dragonfly and an Osprey

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