by Peter Balakian

Peter Balakian

I lived behind a window
shaped like a peony
and watched the chickadees
fly into the evening.

I thought they were bats
because they twitched
when they flew too close
to telephone wires

and veered from the crosses
of light thrown
by the far-off city.

I wiped the mullions
with Fantastik.
Sat down, got up,
Walked around.

When it began to rain
I called a handy-man
to caulk a hole in the joist.

I wore Oxford button-downs
with thin stipes
and shaved before the sun
was too high.

For a few hours my face
took the light,
and then the chickadees came

and I caught a view
of a flag torn by light,
the saucer lip of a stadium,
and a glass skyline

then the sky was
the iridescent back
of a Japanese beetle.
The sun thickened

like old varnish
and the reed-slashed meadowlands
rose up, beyond which I could see

to see the chickadees
settling like a rope of smoke
on the other side of the river.

Last updated February 19, 2023