by Jeffrey Jullich
They try their whole lives,
Rehearsing mechanical stiffnesses
In tendons. They always fail
To run, legs a numbed blur
Across other flat places.
Dream about a straightahead
Without the compulsory upwards:
Without flight, they might escape.
They sit on branches, because the trunk
Mocks a thick leg. The air has streamlined
Them into a singleminded tedium
Free of fantasies, futures stylized
Into reflex throb
Near the throat. They want to know
If tomorrow is the pier's edge,
A sliding pond of air.
Come in and keep coming in
To reach the marina
In a lasting sense,
Like a lawn of beaks.
The vanguard is last,
Followed by the countless.
first published in Operative, 1982
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