In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
                                        and mountains of the Mexican border
                                        I’ve followed the calls of birds
                                        that don’t exist into thickets
                                        and up canyons. I’m unsure
                                        if all of me returned.

                                                            – Jim Harrison (“Suite of Unreason”)

At a flatland fundraiser,
a young man remembers stories

                    of his father and I
                    that never happened—

revels in his glass
embellishments streaming
like dismembered parchment,

                    piecing the unfurled
                    fragments from other scrolls
                    that float in his mind

as heroic ideals to aspire to.

Each time
we ride above the lake to gather,
we look down as horses blow
to trace where the Kaweah ran
beneath it,

point to familiar family names
living along the river before its wide,
slow turn into sand flats hemmed
with cattails around the mouth
of Greasy Creek, before the big holes
of rock and water under the earthen dam
where natives swam, spearing huge carp
to dry and haul up Dry Creek to Eshom
in a cart, Loren, as a boy, riding upon them
and why he never learned to swim.

Each time,
what we remember of the river rises
as if they never left.

I do not crave to travel, to leave
these places, or make new history
elsewhere—with tracks enough

chasing bird songs here at home,
always with the hope that storms
will wash deep ruts from memory.

Everyday an adventure, playing
with coincidence, watching
arbitrary time light upon a branch—

each small part of me I leave behind
like ash and dust you’ll never see
is a lifetime spread over acres of ranch.

One response to “CALLS OF BIRDS

  1. Oh I really love this one John. And have always loved Harrison’s writing.


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