Henri Cole

Dead Wren

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Opening your little gothic wings

on my whitewashed chest of drawers,

I almost fear you, as if today were my funeral.

Moment by moment, enzymes digest

your life into a kind of coffin liqueur.

Two flies, like coroners, investigate your feathers.

My clock is your obelisk, though only this morning

you lunged into my room, extravagant as Nero,

then, not seeing yourself in the sunlit glass,

struck it. Night—what beams does it clear away?

The rain falls. The sky is pained. All that breathes suffers.

Yet the waters of affliction are purifying.

The wounded soldier heals. There is new wine and oil.

Here, take my handkerchief as your hearse.

Photos courtesy of Susan Unterberg (unless otherwise noted).