“A Shadow of a Nest” by Gary Margolis
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
A Shadow of a Nest
The Human Cannon Ball climbs down into the barrel of the cannon, safe in the tube’s darkness, waiting, like me, for the film to punch him up the metal shaft and into the canvas air, down-tent, to the inflated landing bag. I’m holding my breath because a pair of purple finches have nested in the exploding fuschia next to the door and are gun-shy when anyone comes or goes, so their young are fed more on my family’s comings and goings than their own hunger. Mother flits from the willow to the box elder, waiting for evening, for a lull long enough to poke a seed into a new throat. So I ask everyone to use the back door which is easy to forget to do and not to scent the nest with our kind, out of curiosity or the wish to kiss a berry into one of the four blind gaping mouths. Father, rosy and raspberry, not purple, stays on a near branch, as if standing on a spring, waiting to see if I will have the courage to breathe, when the Human Cannon Ball is launched into the air and turns himself like a maple leaf, a snow goose feathering into a corn field, toward the arms of the audience, which can never take the place of the pink blown-up plastic bag that will save him a few frames and words from now – if I can stand here, still as a shadow of a nest, breathing like the wind that flies through the weedy branches of the box elder, here, empty as the air that needs to take him up.
From Fire in the Orchard
Autumn House Press
Copyright Gary Margolis.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Autumn House Press. Copyright by Gary Margolis. For further permissions information, contact Michael Simms, Autumn House Press, 87 ½ Westwood Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.autumnhouse.org.
About the Poet
Gary Margolis is the author of five poetry collections, including Raking the Winter Leaves, (Bauhan, 2013). A licensed psychologist, Margolis is the former executive director of counseling and former associate professor of English at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Learn more about Gary Margolis at poets.org..