A Choral Ode
Oof. It’s five fifteen
and in the half-lit proto-dawn
cacophony kicks in: Tu-whit! Cheerio!
Every cliché for bliss your groggy ear has ever heard
fluting from old cartoons
pipes up. Pick out a bird
(one ear’s awake now): robin; vireo;
house wren, in reticent gray-fawn,
chirruping at the screen;
blue jay in mid-scream;
cardinals’ downward-arcing cries.
Keep listening: has an ache like a bad tooth
seeped through the sound, an undernote of fluttered desperation?
(Crack of a shattered eggshell.
Whoosh of high migration.)
And haven’t birding friends hinted the truth?
That all this twittering implies
some less-than-peaceful theme?
Well, let ’em chirr and cheep
like Looney Tunes. To heck with facts:
This jangling’s more genteel than people’s wars,
with costume-party reveille in summertime back yards
and air corps kitted out
like crazy-quilt Swiss Guards.
In diplomatic wisdom, one ignores
such ruffled-feather noise. Relax.
Lie back again, and sleep.
Read Maryann Corbett’s “A Choral Ode” in the print edition of The Arkansas International 7.
Maryann Corbett is the author of four books of poetry, her most recent being Street View. Her poems have won the Richard Wilbur Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and have been featured in anthologies like Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and The Best American Poetry 2018.