Shift

Not all received
a pulsing grey pyre like Beowulf,
nor a fiery sailing-off with the Vikings.
They had to earn their protection from
Grendel and Loki. Crematoria,
miniature; more pine to mask
the invisible clouds with ash.

I was clean, then, of hardy ancient
pride; heredity, duty, devotion.
Bright and new myself,
unlearned of recurring guilt.

Borneo’s
mountains hold a people,
language grown from song,

and twain, birds.
Weeping and laughter borne of
the same elusive jungle feather

Rumbling out of the phoenix,
death, like the beating of wings.
Crumbs of bread, rubbish, remain
in the beaks of the crows.

In those eyes I saw
my past spiraling back to Saxony,
my sister cradled, aviary,
flight growing
between us.