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It wasn’t you,

the hummingbird

unexpectedly in the yard,

and it wasn’t finding

what it was looking for either

skirting the empty tree.

A body by the river is a cliché,

but they found one

and cordoned off the road.

Newspapers remind us

we know more about decay

than we like to let on—

there are experts among us

who know death to the hour,

death by the degree. Then

there’s what our own bodies tell us

day by day or sometimes

all of a sudden. The crime-scene

tape comes down. The parade-route

flags, the missing-person flyers,

the mourning cloths come down.

The sun sets differently by degrees

and again the river is a garden,

a mirrored highway for ruby-throats

with exacting coordinates

etched into their flight brains,

a gushing vein that feeds

and feeds the sea.

from Little StrangerFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Lisa Olstein
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Lisa Olstein Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.