This poem, from Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves, is often requested when I do a public reading:
The rock flew from his hand
as if it willed flight
out of its own silent matter.
The rock flew as if envious
of the robin sailing sky
into the just blossomed locust.
The rock flew effortlessly,
impelled by something in the boy
that sought the bird’s flight
and, not being able to have it,
sought to negate the pulse
of life in the bird’s wings.
The rock flew with a dark grace,
its arc mimicking the bird’s.
The boy’s arm was insincere
and had never thrown a ball straight
into an open mitt or past a waiting batter,
had never found the mark when
they gathered together to smash
brown bottles floating in the creek.
But this time, impelled by a fear,
or an envy, or an understanding
of the bird’s flight onto the branch
which still vibrated its coin sized leaves
from the inertia of the flight
transferred from sky to silent tree
this time, the rock flew certain,
the arm was true, the motion perfect.
There was a “thuk”–as if the rock
had struck the branch alone.
The robin stumbled from the tree,
dropping feathers, losing its flight,
abandoning its grace, its pulse of life.
The robin bounced three inches
from the red clay bared by a shovel
beneath the silent locust tree.
The bird lay still. The tree no
longer moved. The boy stood, stunned
by the anger of his unthought aim,
by the power of his arm to negate
the flight, the pulse of bird.
There was no blood. The robin’s eyes
were beady, but clear. The boy
backed away from the black feathers.
The rock had disappeared,
transferring its stillness, its inertia
of silence and negation
to deny the pulse, the life of bird.
The bird lay still, its eyes useless,
its wings folded against its breast,
having spent its motion to the stone.
The rock flew on with the bird’s
momentum–forever–in the boy’s mind
negating the wind, the sky, the just passed spring.