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
(without, without)

And I now must learn by outside books to map
my fertile days, to plot myself

towards fruiting.
I am half surprised and half afraid

to try my body’s inner chambers out—

Listen:

Author Image

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

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