—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento
—Carol Louise Moon
High on the workshop wall hung a mask
of carved madrone—a beaked bird.
Raven, eagle, hawk? Hollower than bone
behind its red muscle-grain of wood,
it never spoke, but kept its watch.
A lady opened the door, saw the black-
hole gaze of bird-mask with emptiness
for eyes. How much? she wanted to know.
Not for sale. It was only a family carving.
An instrument chiseled out of song
that begged for lips and fingers forming
sound. No, it was only a wooden bird,
spirit-totem, mankind before he filled his
marrow up with flesh. She wouldn't
understand. The boy at the work-bench
couldn't explain how it looked down
from so high up, so far away. At night,
did it circle above rooftops, beyond
city towers? People locked their mahogany
drawers, keeping things safe inside
their forms. So how could this thing
fly free, its emptiness making sky-music?
It was only the mask of bird.
A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.