Two poems from Christine Robbins’s Wake
followed by a note on the author
This bird is mine for being despised –
For its flocks
Swarming slender trees until they bend.
Starlings breed like knotweed,
Gypsy moth, feral swine.
They say the foreign
Have no heart for this land.
My husband shoots a lead pellet
And starling feathers scatter in shades
Of European poison – flake white,
Vermillion and Paris green
Beneath antimony black. The murder
Of neighborhood crows huddles in
And our stranger settles back
In its old black sheen.
On our hill
There is no dead bird.
Trails its legs above the bay.
An eagle lands
To lift a loop of snake.
Vanishing Point at Willapa Bay
1. Tide line
Seabirds buoyant, gray and white. Seaweed
Bright along the sand. Loving you
For nineteen years, I watch
You more than other things. Pocket
My wind-up of time.
2. Skeletal seal
The eye hole that’s left
Sags in half a hide – the bone cover
Facing the water is gone. Bone-raw,
Un-gnawed by a scavenger its size.
I cannot name what hollows me, but I
Can’t walk or speak so well these days. I wait
To be wanted, anyway. By more
Than tiny mouths.
3. Canvas in light
When I was first afraid to die, I spread
Over all I could see. I tried
To cast myself so wide, I’d be
No surface to breach. The sky’s blue
Drops with the sun, and light
Breaks silver on the bay – brief mirror.
Every bird flies twice.
Christine Robbins has an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop, and poems from Wake have been published in journals including Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Review, Missouri Review online, New England Review, and Willow Springs. She lives and works in Olympia, Washington.
Immigrant first appeared in Barrow Street.
Vanishing Point at Willapa Bay first appeared in The Georgia Review.