“There’s been a bloody murder
out there.” J. points to the flung ring
of feathers in the snow between
houses, a bluish semitransparent
sunkenness in the middle, a surprisingly
beautiful swimming-pool color.
I think swimming pool because
at my age, I’ve learned to swim a decent
crawl (I watched five YouTube videos
for technique, how to expose
just one goggled eye). I used to watch
Grandfather and Ted Metcalf move
so low in the water their bodies barely
broke the surface. The trudgeon
they called it, not crawl, each stroke
a precipice. Meanwhile, my eyes plumb
the axis of wrecked feathers for what’s
both ways sunk. “The lineaments
of gratified desire.” That’s William Blake.
Lineaments is the word: the ring
of feathers, the blue window through
to what a hawk or something
wanted and took, the sheer emptiness
of it, the swimmingness in my mind
when it sees, even for a second—
not loss and gain with their nice
lineaments—but the uncontrollable,
wild heartless heart that loves us.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.