Among the Gospel Trees, the Only Moving Thing by Amy Newman

        for Reginald Shepherd

A red bird preserves a note in its beak
on the cusp of now,

picturing the rich gap it will fill
when the beak opens, and the air volunteers,

as if nature will respond to such trying.
This appeals to my 21st Century loneliness.

That will be the last mention of the eye
of an observer who becomes so unimportant

against these curves and these presumptions,
these roots growing out of an earth

somehow imperative and nonverbal,
somehow inarticulate in typeface, but still pictorial,

this unrelenting yard illustrative of physics
out of the grand books of thought.

Among the evidence of tree, a breeze about to be,
and beneath this: a fleshy kneeling toward belief.

These forms are not tortured in bearing, in burdening,
though rounded under the bird’s about-to-be richness,

human thought a rough technology of skin and brain,
atriums beneath the ribbons of good news

the gospel trees suspend, if their wet bursts of fruit
are evidence of love. If anything were here

it would want to turn toward a chamber of belief,
as any infant ear turns toward the new world,

as pure as fish rolling in the afterthought of waves,
lush as a deep eye, like the horse’s eye,

which is playful because it looks to know something.
If there are mortals there while the horse looks out,

as the playful eye moistens against the impact of air,
they become pure image on the retina, the horse

lowering its head to focus on what’s close.
He lets down the pliant curve of the bowing head.

Among the gospel trees the only moving thing
—beside the fish in the sea, turning in their sleep,

and the horse-rich field, and their focusing eyes,
and their ocular nerves, and their praying manes,

and the horizon against which everything is perceived,
and the shifting field of vision, from left to right,

and you listener, if I risk that chance,
to imagine for a moment your existing there—

were the bird’s soft muscles, holding the passage,
about to trust to the open of air

what it would sing, the burst of dependence all tweet and tweet
as the song moves over its diminishing yield.

Maybe this moved too: the human heart, atrium a-waiting,
all veins strung up with its oohs and aahs,

it intrudes by taking red blood to the chambers,
these provisional zones of pass and pass.