My dog sees a bird,
barrels up through the trees from the truck.
The woods are made of chili. On Opening Day
my father’s no longer a tourist waiting underwater
for a parrot fish. I’m not a fan of fish, my father knows.
My first love was a turtle named Martha
named after the very last passenger pigeon
now stuffed with sawdust. My father is a lime green leaf that gets up
and walks away when you touch it
because he’s really a katydid. I can’t remember the name for this kind
of camouflage. When I think of Martha in Ohio,
perched in her wire cage at the zoo
I think of a ghost with a song
about a great slurry pressed into a single McNugget
like a spirit hardened into an urge
that disappears. Like dandelions
or egg teeth. Like the idea that goodness is beyond us,
not in us. The trees break
with our searching.
She’d sing a song about sewing our eyes shut.
The strange world of Opening Day might, in the hands of another poet, distance the reader. But here one feels anchored in this lyric world. Anchored and thankful to be in it.
—Matthew Dickman, 2010 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize Judge