A poem often requested

A poem often requested

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. 

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