“Rhea” and “Iaboura” – Michigan Quarterly Review

“Rhea” and “Iaboura”


black body bird
on the ground

black body bird
on the ground

black body bird
running hunted
on the ground

take the sky
take the galaxy 
and stir it

black body bird
evade the hunter
and the cross

black body bird
delicious to the broken jaw
black body bird
pursued by name and reputation

black body bird
this world
could never 
hold you

black body brave
black body bright
black body bird

this world is loud
and only qualified
to say what 
you are not

not light
not star
not plane
not car

what you are not
could fill 
a universe

* The rhea is a large flightless bird in South America. The Mbya and the Arawaks who live among them in the Chaco study a constellation of the rhea bird hunted by a one-legged hunter. The hunter corresponds with the Southern Cross in Western Astronomy. The eyes of the bird correspond with Alpha and Beta Centauri; and a large black spot in the Milky Way is the bird’s body.


shape sky into a sling
and swing it from your mouth
beak strong enough
to hold fat futures

face sharp enough to part
cloud mornings
neck long enough to tie
in knots

claw true enough to puncture
crab running
feathers wide enough 
to beckon moon

i see you
walking as if ground
is cloud
that cannot hold you
i knew you
thin and barely
breathing then
i know you now
to stay


everything you’re holding 
everything you’re holding
everything you’re holding
everything you’re holding
everything you’re holding

let it go

 * The Carib constellation of the stork or crab-eating bird.

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