O, cardinal in a birch: lookin’ good, man.
I think I want to wrap my hand around
the soft meringue weight of your body.
All your plush feathers densely packed
like a forty-dollar makeup brush,
and they glow the hot, medicinal red
of a secret flashlight through my skin.
Look at you. Bleeding in the chapped
and peeling branches of the hipster trees.
I just — God damn. You are magnificent.
Folks, this is a quality cardinal.
I am getting my money’s worth
with this cardinal right now.
I gotta do this shit more often.
Just one question: why
is my upper lip tingling?
I go to scratch and there’s a full-on
wiry mustache living there. It takes
a moment, but then I understand:
I am becoming Don McKay.
The next thirty minutes are a blur
and some of it, I don’t even want to
discuss. Things appear, jockey for
position, and lock magnetically into
place: the glasses, cargo vest,
softened leather field journal,
binoculars-as-stethoscope for wingbeats,
weathered complexion from nights
spent tinkering with my own perception
of time. And now I’m imbued
with an overwhelming urge to carve
something out of wood:
I could carve you, Cardinal. Do I still
have Cabernet Varathane in the shed?
No. I don’t have a shed—you know that.
I have loose ends, abandoned online
shopping baskets, dreams of a capsule
wardrobe. I have kids, Cardinal.
Who will pack their bento boxes
in the morning? You tilt your weird head
as I take off through the snow, zigzag
to lose him, haul open the living
room’s sliding glass door and clomp in
wheezing, my boots like facts on the ground.
In the distance, you call out, but of course,
I mistake it for a car alarm. A Tilley hat
descends by stage wire. By the time
I move to dodge it, it’s already on my head.