The skeleton of an avocet erupts
in a cigar box. A fire
like cognac. Like the avocet.
I have trouble choosing: worm
or sleep. Luckily,
I am not long-legged.
This morning, I told my wife
my belt was an eel, coming to surface
for the sheen of the snaps, for what might
be hidden in the shores
of the back pocket. She told me
a joke in Portuguese, about the avocet
who ate the eel and turned into
a flying fish. It’s funnier
in Portuguese. In this language,
we build our coffins like homes—
the purple drapes here, the dinette set…
The avocet is a female apricot,
she says, the burial is a long
slow look at a solemn channel—
before the shovels, streaked with the leavings
of omuboro cherry, allow
for rain. I told my wife,
if I worked at the graveyard,
I would also try to knock the fruit
from the tree. She tells me
the joke about yellow feet
and other signs. How,
to bury the bird
is to choose between two unknowables.
Flight, death. We only think
that she’s the one we’ve been spooning with.
In the creased lid
of the cigar box is only
the aching of paper, and a punchline:
How the armless man
lives with itch. This
is who we have to live with.