A Shadow of a Nest
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).