But I am an amateur
among these bird-cries & must train—
not in what the chicken sexer knows as expertise
& the priest might call discernment.
I only begin to learn to name
the motions of the redbreast nuthatch
who nested in the bittersweet all winter
grey-bellied, native to this cold.
How few words I know
to weave out in the air, to call a world
I move in as a passer-through, a migrant.
In the tangled orchard I learn how
in the 19th century, the farm next door
raised apples bred to last in cellar keeps.
Its space echoes when I call: Who keeps
a cellar now? We engineer
food for refrigerators.
Unpacked & waxy in the store
it comes from someplace far off as my call
And I now must learn by outside books to map
my fertile days, to plot myself
I am half surprised and half afraid
to try my body’s inner chambers out—
Tess Taylor, the 2010-2011 Amy Clampitt Resident, has received fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. Her chapbook, The Misremembered World, was published by the Poetry Society of America, and her work appears in Atlantic Monthly, Boston Review, Harvard Review, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New Yorker. Her book of poems, The Forage House, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.
Photograph Courtesy of Chris Campbell