Christopher Buckley is editor of NAMING THE LOST: THE FRESNO POETS—Interviews & Essays, Stephen F. Austin State Univ. Press, 2021. His most recent book of poetry is The Consolations of Science & Philosophy, Lynx House Press, 2022. One Sky to the Next, winner of the Long Leaf Press Book Prize, is due in 2023.
Those who have become
birds seem happy to be no longer us.
No reason to complain any more
than I used to, to analyze the last
creases of light falling across the path. . . .
Once I had stars pasted on my collar
for Art and French, never thinking
I’d be one who believed there was no joy
to be found anywhere but on earth—
but who knew what was coming?
Since then, I’ve doubled down that
it’s only mist up there and not angels
who’ve forgotten their assignments here.
My thoughts lift past the mares’ tails
and stratus clouds heading for Canada,
look for room to breathe, for an afterlife
of air below the stars. But if I leave stars out
of the deliberations, what have I been looking at
all this time? Our bones come from the minerals
in stars, and soon we’ll have to give them back.
How much light can the sky let go? Finally,
I’m making sense of the mockingbird’s desperate
oratorio to life from the top of the star pine,
the camaraderie of spice finches each dusk
as they hang on to pampas plumes for dear life . . .
me too. My imminent future is breathing
alongside acacia and coral trees, congregating
happily with grackles and crows—the company,
though rowdy and ruffled, is reliable—all of us
equally bemused, staring into space, beyond
the blue and empty curve of earth with little
chance the last seabirds are bringing in news
of an afterlife as we make our best guesses,
reading more into the dark sky each day.