Poem by Ira Sadoff
IN THE AVIARY
I could never sit in one place
until I spent a whole afternoon with canaries,
then one with the parrots, then two days with the cockatoos.
In the aviary birds are always flying -- into nets, plexiglass --
swooping down to a branch, pecking free
an insect from the bark. They are not always
singing, but when they do, it’s rarely in a minor key.
And their stillness we take as a sign of trust.
With all their colors, their preening
of themselves and each other, they must think
they matter. Before them I was always moving
on to the next thing. And Yet
had been my mantra. But I am neither subject
nor object of their meanders. I spend my days
invisible in this cinema of the tropics
under the great tent of a sealed-up universe.
Ira Sadoff is the author of eight volumes of poetry, most recently True Faith (2012). His other recent poetry collections include Barter (2003) and Grazing (1998). New and Selected Poems, tentatively called LATER is forthcoming. Over three hundred of his poems, thirty short stories and a number of essays have appeared in major literary magazines, including The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, The Nation, The New Republic, Esquire, Antaeus, The Hudson Review, and The Partisan Review. Poems in Grazing have been awarded the Leonard Shestack Prize, the Pushcart Poetry Prize, and the George Bogin Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America. He has received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Recent work in The New Yorker, APR, and a long interview with poems in the online journal PLUME.