From J.G. Heck’s 1851 Pictorial Archive of Nature & Science
I mix opium with bear fat and seed for the butcher birds
to give myself laughter. They shit themselves,
their tongues slight and pink, a grub could do better.
It is more suitable than flying for them,
it is a gift. Summer, and the chatter does not cease.
Puff-bird, moor cock, wheatear, willow wren,
I do not hate them. I hold them close to count the mites
in their eyes. Each flight is the source of what shines,
each wing slung in the winds stills the winds.
The stars come out. We can do no better than this,
our lives are our own. On another coast, I’m sure
there is a swallow in a nest of moss, so alive the dust
lies quiet against the fever. The grasses breathing beneath
are my witness, the bees tapping the window glass, my loves.