Smooth Gnarled Crape Myrtle


      A brass-green bird with grass-
green throat smooth as a nut springs from
      twig to twig askew, copying the
Chinese flower piece–businesslike atom
      in the stiff-leafed tree's blue-
      pink dregs-of-wine pyramids
      of mathematical
      circularity; one of a
      pair. A redbird with a hatchet
      crest lights straight, on a twig
      between the two, bending the
            peculiar
            bouquet down; and there are

      moths and lady-bugs,
a boot-jack firefly with black wings
      and a pink head. "The legendary white-
eared, black bulbul that sings
      only in pure Sanskrit" should
      be here–"tame clever
      true nightingale." The cardinal-
      bird that is usually a
      pair, looks somewhat odd, like
      "the ambassadorial
            Inverness
            worn by one who dresses

      in New York but dreams of
London." It was artifice saw,
      on a patch-box pigeon-egg, room for
fervent script, and wrote as with a bird's claw
      under the pair on the
      hyacinth-blue lid–"joined in
      friendship, crowned by love."
      An aspect may deceive; as the
      elephant's columbine-tubed trunk
      held waveringly out–
      an at will heavy thing–is
            delicate.
            Art is unfortunate.

      One may be a blameless
bachelor, and it is but a step
      to Congreve. A Rosalindless
redbird comes where people are, knowing they
      have not made a point of
      being where he is–this bird
which says not sings, "without
      loneliness I should be more
      lonely, so I keep it"–half in
      Japanese. And what of
      our clasped hands that swear, "By Peace
            Plenty; as
            by Wisdom Peace." Alas!


Marianne Moore, The Collected Poems of Marianne Moore, Viking Penguin, 1941.