Hesped for a Hatchling
Morning, sameness. The way I wake each day: a wager
on the news, the weight I’ll carry with me, the weight
I can bear to place. Today’s story was light: gay vultures
in Amsterdam hatch an abandoned egg with no mother.
The morning before and the morning before that I worried
I’d appear on the next day’s broadcast, the latest victim
gouged by knife to neck or the shrapnel of a bomb. Must
I bear witness to the miracle of a hatchling, or each new
horror? Why can’t I remain sedated in this soft light?
I’ve proven my wounds to be true. They are profound,
I sing about them, and nobody listens. I’m not brave enough to
look elsewhere. Imagine me open to such suffering, to each
astonishing gash in the skin of my safety: hysterical, screaming
like I do in my dreams— at no particular target, just my fugue
and the flotsam it creates, and the teetering horizon lost in
syncope. I mean I can’t possibly feel this pain all the time
or I’d die. My rotten guts would wring me out. So I meditate
on my vision of safety: lolling zephyrs, sunlight, palms on soft
switchgrass. Even in these fields, distant sirens ring. I sweat
under the sun. I lie and am lied to by the lightness. I am lied to
by the constancy of my shelter. How can I look away?
They pound on the door so hard the screen cracks.
My ocular nerve atrophies; this dyskinesia persists.
I stumble to the bedroom and collapse.
The graffiti on my headboard runs and glares in blue light,
so the swastikas twist like pinwheels in the wind.
They came for the vultures and took the
hatchling, and I did nothing.
They came for my wilderness, and still
I did nothing.
Ethan Milner is a clinical social worker in Oregon, providing therapy and crisis intervention at a school for youth with special needs. His work has appeared in The Offing, decomP, and other outlets. His writing on music can be found in the archives of ImpressionOfSound.com.