Rochelle Nameroff
The Grackles

You can stare a long time and not know it,
      you can open your mouth many times,
the stare coming out of it—

It is the house so shuttered against the wind
      you can hear the wood beams straining,
the house so small against the sky

that it appears like a door to a larger house
      you can't see the roof of,
and above the house so many grackles

they look like gnats, or like pores
      on the terraced skin of an orange.
You can almost taste the orange's sweetness

the way the eye can smell the oncoming storm
      or see the color of thunder in the air,
its blossoms metallic and birdlike—

So many, to count them in their graceful sweep
      is to get dizzy all at once, a dizziness
that is like letting go of the universe.

First the sky gives up its protective arch of light.
      Then the birds disappear, taking the thunder,
leaving the air a cavern of cries. The house,

now roofless, is a family of two, who stand
      in night's passageway. They are blind
with the world coiled inside their fingerprints.

What the mother sings to the cradle
      goes all the way down to the coffin
so many times that the song is the universe,

and those who sing it—grackles, mother, child,
      and the small house with its ache of perspective—
sing it gladly, their voices now and then stopping.