Monica Youn – Blueacre

photo credit: NASA


Monica Youn

for Jane Hirshfield

swallows arc
through the air

like grappling
hooks cast
by a sophisticated thief

into this jeweled
landscape. So much
beauty available

for use, the fields
in lacquered panels,
the poppies like satin

emblems of themselves.
The bee-eaters, too,
have their moments

of hieratic beauty –
viewed from below
their black-bordered

wings are self-
consciously dramatic
as a kohl-rimmed eye.

But, they decline to soar,
or even to hover,
fearing perhaps

the depredations
of the ever-circling hawks.
Instead, they fly

in earnest, urgent bursts,
clamping their wings
to their sides

between wingbeats,
and bubbling over
with little spurts of song.

The overall effect
is comic – something
like a flotilla

of steam-powered
parasols, and
the bee-eaters

are chuckling, too,
wearing their dime-
store bandit masks.

They perch companionably
on the telephone wires –
each having skewered

a round-bodied bee
like a cocktail olive –
fluffing out their necks

until they are all neck,
nearly spherical,
having chosen warmth

over elegance
having chosen to stay
close to their dry

burrows in the sandbank,
only occasionally
gesturing skywards

at the shelterless,
the infinitely
glamorous blue.