Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Bird at Daybreak

Burning Sun over Iceland.
Image appears here with the kind permission of Hallgrimur Sveinn Sævarsson.
More spectacular photographs of Iceland can be viewed at his other site, Nykur.
(The image is linked to its source).

This poem was written by another Seattle pal of mine. Neile Graham is a Canadian poet who lives and works in Seattle. She is married to Jim Gurley, whose poem, “Field Guide”, I featured yesterday. Neile has won all sorts of prizes and awards for her poetry, although I remember well the excitement surrounding her third place prize awarded by the League of Canadian Poets in 1995. The book that today’s featured poem is found in was inscribed by Neile to me, saying for Devorah — who looks at the very small things to see the big ones clearly.

Bird at Daybreak
by Neile Graham

for Jim

Light cuts through
the gap between blind
and window frame
to my palm.
Burning I say,
burning you repeat
in your sleep, then
turn to lie closer
against me. I hold
the light in my hand
like a bird — it beats
with blood and flight.
I can’t move my arm
or close my fingers,
can’t wake you.
The bird spreads its wings
as I try to call
your name, settles
when my voice won’t rise
from my throat.
The bird and I burn
like sun,
like morning.
You’re still in night:
fighting your way
through layers of sleep,
you speak my name.
I stare at my hand.
The bird burns deeper
as your eyes open
and you touch my open hand.

From Spells for a Clear Vision (London, Ontario, Canada: Brick Books, 1994)