Will Not Come Back

The jet-drone of the river

     is deafening, shocked metal

on sheet of black glass, the rotator

     a shriek of rattle-heat, power

into motion, limbs blown

     back. High above, flock of shrikes,

dark ornaments in branches

     leafless, bleached—

a botched dividing, scrawled

     before winter, before

freak fractals of snow,

     before the fracked earth

shatters far beneath.

     I am but factual. Higher,

in the black, unblinking

     light of actual aircraft, of flight

quiet as vectors. But up there nothing

     moves: is it Venus, is it some star’s

last siren, the workday over,

     compression over, light’s

factory-whistle and called up years ago

     I am with you flying on aluminum wings

of no one’s making, black cows like rivets

     gridding the brown field below,

ice sheathing spiked turf,

     sharp-tip, stalk, flat-feather—

from soil these thousand beaks

     hissing. We enter an eddy

of cloud, the world

     whitewashed away,

as outside us the hum grows,

     pale, hard, coiled,

like a goiter in a bull’s throat.

     And is it in me now—

muttering, all sides

     the heavy, engined river,

a hand dark as thirst raw

     on my tongue,

when I am numb, when I

     am held down,

when my eyes blow

     open: again the nerve the startle

the lurch of lift-off.