By Robert Okaji
Contemplating the afterlife of birds,
I empty the carcass. My wife
offers rosemary sprigs,
which I stuff into the cavity
with whole garlic cloves
and seared lemon halves,
and then I compact it by tucking
the wings under and pushing
one leg through a slit in the other,
lessening the surface. One might
debate the shape of a bird’s
soul, the sanctity of structure
and limitation, of ritual and
the weight of fire’s gifts in
human brain development,
but trussing is essential
to the goal of proper
I pat it dry, sprinkle kosher salt
on the skin, put it in the oven,
set the timer for an hour, pour wine.
Following custom, we eat
without saying grace.
Piece by tender piece, it descends.
Nine Variations of a Cloud
Looking up, I renounce pity and the sadness of wind.
Only lust pulls and shapes more, diminishing your integrity.
It slips through whenever I try to grab it.
Every phrase is a window glowing at night, surrendered to its frame.
Water in another form is still water.
In whose ruins must you survive?
Another shape, another moment desperately spent.
And still you thrive in diminishment.
Bearing nothing, it conceals.