Gathering
A boy stands under the tree’s canopy, arms
cradled to catch what plummets, whether pecans
 
or half-swallowed insects evacuating the gray throat
of a sparrow. The grass sheens in the sun’s steady light 
 
as he hauls the loot to ragged blankets by a stream
so clear the tadpoles in it appear on display.
 
He kneels close to them, face hovering
over the quietly folding surface of the water,
 
lips moving as if afraid to drink, as if whispering
to these not-yet frogs, nary a lily pad
 
in sight. His voice is laced
with the urgency of a meadow
 
deprived of flowers—his hands unwrapping
to show a swimmer what he has collected
 
of fallen nuts, beaks, talons, and guts
like they make a sort of sacrament
 
and yet the undulating creature pays him
little mind before following the flow
 
perhaps to a fuller body like a river
where with salmon it might practice the art
 
of leaping, leaving him with his gift
which he extends again to the more vacant 
 
water which keeps turning like a man
uncomfortable rising from bed
 
who clocks in at the packing plant, helping 
dump tons of chicken shit into this stream
 
where his boy plays now, offering
dead things to a soon-to-be dead thing.
 
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