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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

False Start / Killing The Goldfinch

Apparatus Magazine (Online) Jan 2010

False Start

Maybe this is what happens. A man starts
reading a story in the morning:
                                               a woman
leaves, leaving her laundry and saying
goodbye to the neighbors as they load up
a truck, preparing to leave the neighborhood
forever. She goes to the store and overhears
her husband’s girlfriend telling the clerk
how they’ve played her for a fool, how
his promises of fidelity are a joke,
have always been nothing but a joke.

The woman drives home and says goodbye
again to the neighbors. She leaves her
laundry hanging on the line and goes
into the house, packs a hasty bagful
of whatever’s close at hand, says a last
goodbye to the neighbors and drives away
                    Her car breaks down. She
pounds the wheel and waits a fuming hour
for her father to come and rescue her.
She sees the taillights backing up
to her bumper, but when she feels
the first tug of the tow chain, she has
her second thoughts.
                                The man has to
stop reading and go to work. All day long
he thinks about the woman, thinks about
the unfinished story and the neighbors,
packing up to leave. At lunch he goes out
and sits by the lake, starts writing a story
about leaving. After only a page he has to
get back to the office. His wife is away
at a conference. He wants her to come home
and read it. Maybe he never finishes the story.

Killing the Goldfinch

It did what goldfinches do. It flew
—or tried to fly, at least— tried
and failed to fly from the yellow
birch to a low and waiting branch
of aspen, a fluttering invitation,
only a launch and a few wingbeats
away. It did what a goldfinch does:
it tried to trade a green for green,
tried to leave behind one haven
for another and, along the way,
be nothing but what a goldfinch is:
brief and beautiful, a streak of
sunrise, bright. Alive. But fate
would have it otherwise; flight
does not guarantee arrival,
does not denote a destination
                A thing as clear as
glass –a windshield, say—or
some other car’s bright, shiny
chrome, going a mile a minute
unconcerned, barreling toward
its own destination, does not stop
to reflect on even one small
golden insignificance,
no matter how short its flight.