The warm air unburdens itself inside the trill
of the red wing blackbird riding invisible waves
of wind on a cat-tail’s tip. See how
his wings pull back to push out his sound,
see how the lake collects his shape
in her shimmering palm like a lucky beggar:
the double flash of orange, the sharp
beak, that little yellow stripe. Spring
is a time of exchange, of giving and giving in,
of taking what’s offered by clouds
and the fists of the sycamore’s leaves that slowly
open and tender their gold to the light.
—Joseph Heithaus (Putnam County)
Joseph Heithaus won the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize in 2007 and his work has appeared in a number of journals including Poetry, The Southern Review, and the Indiana Review. He teaches at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and his book Poison Sonnets was recently published by David Robert Books. You can find more of his work at joeheithaus.com.