Thursday, April 9, 2009

Birds on the List

I've had two dreams of note
in the last couple of weeks
and only one I can remember right now
which I don't think is a dream in the sense
of some visual dream narrative
but some context of anxiety
I'm in a professional hockey game
sitting on the bench in full uniform
any second now the coach is gonna tell me go
and then I'll jump over the boards
but I can't skate very well at all
and I'm super embarrassed but I try to follow the puck
but I can barely move
and I know i'm gonna get drilled
by some little punk from grade school
who I never liked and was always better than
it's basically the same dream
as the one where you're sitting in class with only your underwear on
which is a pretty powerful sentiment
I mean sometimes I spend half my time
worrying to myself that I'm a fraud
and the other half proving i'm not

the other dream is better
it's deeper somehow and prizmatic
it's beautiful and special
but I can't remember it
I think it had something to do with war
I dreamt at least once maybe twice
I didn't want to forget it
I went around looking for it talking to friends
asking Becky if she remembered me talking about it
and she didn't
but she told me to write about
all the birds I should be so lucky to see
the birds on my list
the ones I've seen
and the ones I'm dreaming to see
and then it hit me, the dream

I was standing in total darkness
when this spectacular bird appeared and flew in front of me
looked at me squarely from the side of its head
it was a heron, large with a long and sharp beak
it had this incredible yellow streak on its crown
and I immediately misidentified it as a yellow-crown night heron
because behind it was black as night
with flashes of yellow and orange along it's crest
but it was almost uniformly blue
and absolutely unfazed by my presence
a simply beautiful dream
that failed to resound enough
for me to remember it

but I remember wondering when I woke up
if that kind of heron may exist in the world
and if not in the world
it exists now and I'm happy to see it
forget about it and remember it again
and have a chance to describe it

usually how it works is this
you look through the bird books and see the picture
or the peterson or sibley drawing
you try to figure out what time of year you might find it
and in what kind of environment
and then you have to be persistent in looking
but even then you have to be lucky
and if you find the bird it's truly uplifting
its forms a direct and unmitigated convergence of natural histories
the bird's and the birder's
but what of the dream birds, the abstract birds
the pest birds that follow humans
living off waste following the interstates
I won't forget seeing certain birds for the first time
american and least bittern, green heron, bald eagle
or seeing thousands of canada geese at Oak Orchard Swamp
they have been poetic moments

I almost forgot my dream night-heron
but now I won't
writing this poem while hanging out with friends all day today
and having the dream heron come back to mind
and making it public
skating out to center ice getting booed because i can barely move on skates
hoping to make a little something real out of the world
into the world

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