B. J. Love

This is that time you pointed out the two birds
wriggling about the air, only to realize that they
were not two birds, but microbes on your eyeballs
pretending to be two birds worth pointing out, or
maybe this is the poem I itched across your back
last night when I was pretending to be itching
your back & not writing poems, or maybe this
is how I scoot my hand across your spot in our bed
brushing up all the skin you keep spinning out of,
pretending to be afraid that if I leave it, it will surely
be eaten by microbes & bedbugs, & if it is eaten,
I will never be able to put back together that poem
about the two birds wriggling across your back
& chirping being a side effect of itchy skin.


I've mapped out multiple diagrams, labeled
all the parts using thin black lines, put arrows
at the ends of some of them when there were
too many named parts clustered all together,
I've given them titles full of Roman numerals
& decimal points, but don't worry, I have
been careful to avoid all the sixes & sevens,
& just for fun, some parts open up on little
cardboard hinges & on the inside of the flap
there are more arrows, lines, & labels, one
even has a footnote, & though I can't tell you
which one exactly, one of the little cardboard
doors opens up to reveal nothing more than
a foil wrapped chocolate, but you must promise
me to be careful with the foil as inside that you'll
find the microscopic decoder wheel; a compass
that solves every secret, every cipher, everything.


This has often been mistaken as a poem about birds,
a poem about grackles & thrushing, about beaks
& wing tufting, a poem about aviary things
that have never interested me nor my poems
one bit, & I must be perfectly clear about this;
neither me, nor my poems have ever picked up
a pair of binoculars to go bird-watching, & after
brief deliberation, we've realized we never will.


I fanned your muscles out across the table
arranged them in the manner of matchbox
cars or feature film trading cards, "arrange"
maybe isn't the right word, a more accurate
description would be that I created a display
of your bones, muscles & sinew, a diorama
of your anatomy that I will give back to you
in the very shoebox in which it was given
to me, but you must be careful, as the glue
has gotten fragile & the right bump could
send the whole thing into disarray & then,
well, it just wouldn't look that natural at all.


The poem came out of three distinct places: one, my wife's nightly demands for back scratches, two, my over consumption of poem about birds, & finally, a post-holiday purchase of Gray's Anatomy from B&N for $5.98. God bless bargain bins!