Walter Anderson Sleeping on the Levee

Brendan Galvin Click to

bgalvin-40Brendan Galvin is the author of sixteen volumes of poems. His collection Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 (LSU, 2006) was a finalist for the National Book Award. His crime novel, Wash-a-shores, is available on Amazon Kindle.  The Air’s Accomplices, a collection of new poems was released from LSU last year.  His Egg Island Almanac will appear in 2017.

In New Orleans to research Hurricane Betsy,
the one he’d ridden out tied to a tree trunk
on Horn Island, he rolled up for the night
on the levee by Audubon Park, letting
the Mississippi talk him to sleep.
Surrounded again, as on the island,
toward morning he felt the serious eyes,
and waiting on the moment they’d show themselves.
He saw for the one and only time
the carcasson, then the smaragdine
and gallowglass, but were these the names
of birds, or the names of birds
he wished there were? If a bird is a hole
in heaven through which a man may pass,
then what in the hell were all these anxious
steppers? No pouldeau or pelican, nothing
he’d ever sketched or done in watercolors,
no redwing or boat-tailed grackle
that waited for raisins and cold rice
he’d fling them from last night’s supper.
The hurricane, he figured, had lifted
these strangers out of the park’s aviary.
Could they sense that he’d talked with
the morning star, or escaped from hospitals
because authority amused him? He was
necessary again: on the levee these birds
would starve or be brought down by
an air rifle or household beast. Casting
breadcrumbs over his shoulder, he led them
back into the park, wrestling their names
from himself, pied piper of the stonechuck
and pripet, the fireneck, peabill,
mer-hen, the garget, the stant.