for Karen & Don Peris
All the grackles in the garden flash
Violet when the clouds break and then
Return to black as if we’d made it up.
The way the voice exists beneath the voice.
All the children you almost never had.
In the garden shed someone plays, behind
The windowpane someone plays a pump
Organ, and the wind changes direction.
It is only because we choke that we can sing.
The larynx migrated down the throat and nested.
But song irrupted. The murmuration
Of notes in the backyard, along the streets,
Past the church, to the park and back, back
And always moving in. Geraniums shake.
Birds in the reeds.
If the birds are emblems the song in your throat
Is the unfurling flag of your kingdom.
In the house in the old town an organ speaks
(Give it the air it needs to breathe),
Guitar notes bloom like sunlit spots on the wall
(Outgrow the shadow stitched to the soul),
Your voice radiates enough for birds to weave
(O sing and hear, O sing and believe).
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.