The Library of Congress

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Poem Number 103

A Shadow of a Nest

Gary Margolis

The Human Cannon Ball climbs down into
     the barrel of the cannon, safe in the tube’s
darkness, waiting, like me, for the film to punch
     him up the metal shaft and into the canvas

air, down-tent, to the inflated landing bag.
     I’m holding my breath because a pair
of purple finches have nested in the exploding
     fuschia next to the door and are gun-shy

when anyone comes or goes, so their young
     are fed more on my family’s comings and
goings than their own hunger. Mother
     flits from the willow to the box elder,

waiting for evening, for a lull long enough
     to poke a seed into a new throat. So I
ask everyone to use the back door which is
     easy to forget to do and not to scent the nest

with our kind, out of curiosity or the wish
     to kiss a berry into one of the four blind
gaping mouths. Father, rosy and raspberry,
     not purple, stays on a near branch, as if

standing on a spring, waiting to see if I will
     have the courage to breathe, when the Human
Cannon Ball is launched into the air
     and turns himself like a maple leaf, a snow

goose feathering into a corn field, toward
     the arms of the audience, which can never
take the place of the pink blown-up plastic
     bag that will save him a few frames and words

from now – if I can stand here, still as a shadow
     of a nest, breathing like the wind that flies
through the weedy branches of the box elder,
     here, empty as the air that needs to take him up.


From Fire in the Orchard
Autumn House Press

Copyright Gary Margolis.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).