Walked out to the car this morning to find a small brown Bird deceased on the windshield. A young song sparrow, Neither naked gawky nestling nor chesty feathered elder; A sort of a teenager, I guess. Cause of death not instantly Evident, nor did I spend time determining its gender; no, My brain got stuck on the teenager part. It’s so fearsome, Being a teenager. Everything is ten times louder. They’re Braver and stupider than any three older people; they are Three people, most of the time. This is discombobulating In the extreme. But we have no sympathy for them. We’d Prefer to forget we were them; we deny that we ever were. You know we do. If we wrote our histories we would skip From twelve to twenty, from generally bucolic childhood, At least fitfully, at least while finding refuge from trouble, To beginner older idiocy, which itself takes a decade or so. We get so impatient with teenagers. We want them to leap Past stupid. But stupid is a great teacher, isn’t it? Flailing At least teaches you what alleys to avoid, if at all possible. We have no mercy on them but they are in a thunderstorm, And probably it seems like it will never end, and we whine That they are wet yet again even after we advised as re wet. And how wet we were too, brothers and sisters, how moist And soaked and sopping and bedraggled we were, not even Fully feathered at the time, trying to figure out how to soar, And where to soar, and who, if anyone, would soar with us; And if we were blessed we had parents, maybe parents who Loved us even, but so often they just stood and sermonized As we fell out of the nest, frightened and thrilled and lonely.
He’s heard stories of amber, of winter storms that deposit yellow knurls and knuckles the length of the long beach that runs north to Palanga, of roads jammed even in winter on a fair Sunday with beachcombers eager for treasure. He’s not found that road yet, shy or distracted or put off by some vague sense that the old powers should be cautiously approached. He’s read that the Christians found this land hard to enter, the people stubborn, claiming to be happy with the gods they knew. That’s been centuries. Still the borders mean something. Still the news is bloody and not so far away. The traveler read in the U.S. news that there’s new word form Vilnius: if the Russians come, stay calm. Show up for work. Hug your children. The traveler has noticed nothing scary, but he knows he’s wearing a snug cocoon of ignorance. Anyway another source insisted that the message was mostly about storms, fire, earthquakes, the Russians only one of many perils that need forethought but not fear. He doesn’t know whether the bundled souls he passes on his night walks are brooding on blood, or thinking only of their doors and dinner and a drink, or wondering how much amber the last storm of winter washed up on the beach, how much waits half-buried to give itself to any walker, golden as cool fragments of a lost sun.