April Moment

All the morning rain tumbled on the lawn,

And when I woke I saw the grass was green,

Changed while I lay asleep.

On a tree a bird had caught an itch,

Was it from the ticklish rain perhaps?

He lifted up his bold curved wing and knick-knacked

with his beak upon the inner lining of his vest.

Stopped and looked around.

Then lifted he again that dark strong wing and his beak

beat signals on his breast.

Ticker-tacking up and down,

the very frenzy of an itch.

Stopped and looked around.

There was this bold, outright look to his prominent birdy eye,

And the way his head sat free from his body,

I thought, I began, although the light was wrong,

To know what party this bird belong.

Then with what unmercy he attacked those softest feathers on

his breast,

His beak went buffeting wildly, feathering, fluttering,

until—

suddenly

he broke off

and jumped

around to face me.

And it was.

I could see the itchy apricotie color now.

The robin in dressfront of pome-granite.

No clay of brickish red went he in the newly passed rain.

But still with that nigging pumice itch.

And oh how that birdy beak could bring his body to the pitch!

Until—

after traveling underneath and back-and-forth and in-

and-out and up-and-down,

until—

in very ecstasy of itch,

That robin shivered forward so his head

Slid back between those tortured wings,

And lifting he his straight left leg,

High and fractured,

He scratched his head.

He did.

And then he looked around.

That hard, bright, strong look, as if to say,

“Well, so what if I just did something perfectly extroriary.

That doesn’t change anything.

Does it? I dare you. Does it?”

And he began to hop up through the tree,

From branch to branch, using those ordinary wings

Enough to move him, but not enough for grace;

He seemed fat and proud,

Self-confident and fat.

He wasn’t even April’s first at that!

And yet, and yet—

I’d much forgive

To see that color flaming soft upon his breast,

To see that dainty claw so frantic on his crest.

1959