The garden at night coy shadow,
fishpond thick with softly
gleaming algae.
The human whispers, our murmured
secret thrives in such balmy
chiaroscuro and we have so
much to share—but we
are not alone. The insistent,
stubborn needles, yes,
no, approach and flee, their
whine more distracting than any song.
The wounds they leave are nagging
constellations across the map
we wear within our clothes,

as the hunters easily know here we have
hidden in the windless angle of the dark.
The hand slaps, misses, kills, what does
it matter? They are legion,
and what they steal is hungrily
pilfered survival.
We slap again,
shake our heads, wave our hands, too much,
soon we will escape.
But stay, almost forgiving—we have
so much to learn about
each other and these hungry

wings pause only to persist,
missing, stealing with a
blue-note mine-mine all the while
nothing is theirs.


The Giraffe

Let the trees
root and grow.
Let the feeding birds choose this
shade or that branch.
When the learned accept
that the lessons are worn out,
only the wide horizon is left,
and a life shaped by such

magnitude is changed,
elevated in a way
that can only be awkward.
To be handsome, he realizes,
accepting this
clumsy grandeur, to be a
creature of proportion,
is hopeless. And so he feeds
from the crests of the woodland,
follows a shadow ungainly but fluid,

over the watering hole,
through the increasingly scattered salt lick,
over the tracks of lesser, quicker beings,
their dimunutive elegance exhausted
by escape from the predators
that only the extraordinary can see,
and only the silent ungainly,
resigned to his stature, free of hope,
can drive from the helpless.

Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books. His new collection of poems, The Promised Rain, is in private circulation. He lives in Albany, California.

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Published in the July 7, 2017 issue: View Contents
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