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Year of the Bird
On the seventh day of the seventh month, Golden Bird Chinese Food opens its doors to hungry ghosts and savages
                                           Her private take-out
—Fried canary for all! And Karaoke. Suet, too.  
                       Trail of her traveling song, her Chinese song, sea song. Swallow swoops down throat, through winding ear. Conch interiors. She answers herself.
                                                                                        She, herself, is an answer.                         
                              A string of guard-light pearly birds with indigo eyes
                              That wisp through tunnel wind, tumble through ocean’s tubes
                              Tubas, tubas hold forth &
                                            نسر الطائر   The flying Star  
                                             The ill-fated Lovers  خدا حافظ
                                        Dark permeates heaven
                     Within the moment’s sill
                Before ocean and sky comingle …
No two ways about it
                                Enlightenment—one way traffic
            If waters dry up, wind will drape currents across a shore
If sun freezes, moon will torch the sky               
              A lemon popsicle 
                                                                                     No two ways
                                                                       Bird by two—heart diamond
On every seventh day of each seventh month, Golden Bird Chinese Food offers
Doubt & Belief in take-out pints (furry white rice)—one sweet
/ one sour—sunset orange/sunrise pink with sticky duck sauce (vegan)
Served banquet-style on Lazy-Susans
If she can’t read the time on the wall
Does it follow that she can’t see the face of the clock?
Does it follow that she’s lost in a moment?
Ordering specials, flying
Through dinner: pigeon and 1000-year-old-egg;
A passenger through day.
             In the year of the bird, pandas pray to Buddha under eclipsed moon
                 And she, who maps interior territory, mopes, balances greed, mixes  
 Ingredients—studies how place travels like character—sadness swells the belly;
Now she’s a structure you can’t move into like a restaurant,
Not something subjective/salty                Not a mood to be summarized
Our impulse to believe in magic (poetry) reflects our disappointment in god who doesn’t satisfy.  That which is outside faith, we’re impotent to express.  (… if god and poetry are unable to survive in such terrain …)  How do we describe a surface covered in god? And through that surface? Words are film on the surface of deep water. Their meaning, the film’s narrative. An oily rainbow floating atop as though one is looking through fog, at fog. (There must be a through, though how is it described?  Perhaps through music?
  A tunnel?
  Through scripture?
  Through love?
                                that which sets the human body in motion. Aerodynamics. Free as a word
The body of chains, of chimes. How many directions might time move while one is dying (how many directions must time move, must time move)—(even as we grow / even as we shrink). Even as we make love our bodies die (even as we conceive). The patient on the gurney is dying at the same rate as the surgeon who is performing the operation. If you ask her, while she’s waiting for food (Doubt & Belief) in the Golden Bird Chinese Restaurant, she’ll look at the clock perched on the wall (though cannot read the time): flocks of birds circling sky: Apus, Aquila, Columba, Corvus, Grus, Pavo, Tucana—bird constellations:  light of birds, the dream of birds, a bird’s afterimage.  Visual space does not move apropos the flying body. Why is it called passing?

Martine Bellen’s most recent collection of poetry is This Amazing Cage of Light: New and Selected Poems (Spuyten Duyvil). She is a librettist of Moon in the Mirror (colibrettist Zhang Er, composer Stephen Dembski), which will be performed during the Chinese New Year at Cleveland State University.