Best of the Net 2006  

Air Traffic Control

I'm coming to the end of what I can imagine
life to be: a series of pratfalls, dinners with friends,

men who can't afford even five dollar dogs. In short,
whatever isn't all bad, isn't much good either, and

the pain is the thing that sticks with me. I guess this life,
like all jars, has its too slick sides, its bottom and lid.

Thus, every morning I wake up late, having spent
the whole night in the mines of my heart, and Melanie

has already been up for hours. Smell of coffee.
Sound of TV. And this morning there's a dead baby bird

on its side in the driveway. Don't say it's just nature;
it's sad. Why? The thing barely even got started,

yet struggled just the same from beginning to end. I saw it
happen. All afternoon yesterday, the mother bird flying

back and forth prodding and feeding it, calling it back
to the tree. Stupid little bird, I imagined her singing,

get up and fly like you mean it. No one can help you.
The cats are coming, etc. You are a tiny thing

in the shadow of a giant world. Pick yourself up,
or you will die there...
But the bird was sick or hurt

from falling, and that was that. The mother was right—
as mothers mostly are—and the bird died in the night.

So the first thing I do is pick it up off the driveway
with a dustpan—though it's hardly dust—and then

place it under the reddish-pink flowers I don't know
the names of. I don't know the names of birds either.

And I don't say for it a eulogy. I just pitch it gently
under cover of those pretty things, and then

stand there a second thinking, poor little bird. I know
it's sentimental, but helplessness makes me sad,

as do also suffering and the ends of things—both,
it seems to me, relevant here. As such, I keep returning

to the beginning, which is right where I, and everyone,
started out, but also where we all keep hovering.

I'm not here to say that everything has to make sense.
On the contrary, I'd say most things have not to, so that

the order, or the Absolute, or whatever connects us,
can keep defying our logic, and also our souls

in the heavens/ the darkness—to cajole us into living
the best way we can.

-Matt Hart (H_NGM_N)