At first the window opened
and in flew a purple martin with the mottled throat
and belly of something literal.
I wanted a carton of cigarettes,
but the martin wanted only to batter
itself against my wife’s oak music box with it brass knobs,
its claw feet,
and its curved legs. I air-wrote Progne subis
above my young son’s sleeping head,
for his name was Martin,
and sometimes he dreamed he was a passenger
on a great ship in the Indian Ocean,
but in fact these were terrible dreams
from which he generally awoke inconsolable.
The wind, as he described it, filled the expansive canvas sail
in a way that was far too literal,
as though the earth
had taken one final exhausted breath
to blow him far away from everyone he’d ever loved.
The martin began bleeding on my wife’s burl veneer
picture frame, made of walnut,
and my son Martin began talking in his sleep
about a frightening putto he’d seen once on an ancient map,
its cheeks puffed out as it blew
a great rush of wind across the continents.
The martin flew across the continent of white ceiling
then bumped against my wife’s antique writing desk
with its tambour sliding roll top,
which she told me she fantasized sometimes she was carrying
on her back up a literal mountain.
flew into my son’s dream and found itself perched
on the mast and looking out across the Indian Ocean,
and I found myself wanting a carton of cigarettes and squinting
to see my wife there on the mountain
and then my son, my son,
sat up on the couch just as the martin found its way
back out the window. We were glad for it, of course.
Though of course
we were inconsolable to see it go.