Bird Outside My Window

                                              Split the Lark—

In an efficient world where living things
            have one name, and nothing living
            comes round twice,
I must disambiguate, give up
            the word I learned
            or word I know for the one
bird outside my window—lark, 雀—
            fluttering down
            my American brain stem
like sun-motes of neural flash
            under the illusion of
            neutral plurality

or like pure tones pealed from a voice
            box originating bird-
            song, though should we look
inside a bird, there’d be no voice,
            a forked throat
            instead, whose
            tubes enter, exit, branch
into Bulb after Bulb, bags
            of back-up breath
            reaching past
            omentum and meat
into the heart of bone, hands
            slipped inside pockets.

In hollow bone, where all breath stops
            is where blood starts.
            I once scooped out marrow’s dirt,
grew it in a dish to circulation’s citizenry
            but it was Sodom it was Gomorrah,
            it was blood lacking
antigens, passwords, speechless
            in proper English.
In ancient texts, my prior people
            “never draw that distinction
            between body and self,”
a principle the thymus enacts
            as it stamps death
            on bodies
            of unselfed blood
with DISC—death-inducing
            signaling complex—
            to disown, dispatch,
discard. Sceptic
            thymus, sceptered
            inquisition, shrinking
inquirer that cards through
            a tangled interior, you are
            the “singing master of my soul,”
            and therefore,
            O bird,

please do not come in
            where you ought not
            be, but if you must
            enter, please alight under
the lampshade’s metal cheek
            which cups a sixty-watt bulb
            like the grail cupping blood
or my hand cupping you
            to fence in your heat,
            anything so small is
susceptible to cold, to dying of it
            during questioning, I know.
How can I not interrogate a stranger
            who crosses the borders
            into my fear?
But how can I not cup
            you even after incision,
            one hand round your feathers
as if they were candles, strapping
            my breath to my breast,
            held still, so not to
            frighten you
            from saying your true

Angelo Mao is a biomedical scientist. His first book of poems is Abattoir (Burnside Review Press, 2021). His poetry and reviews have appeared in Poetry, Georgia Review, Lana Turner, and elsewhere. He is also a poetry editor for DIALOGIST.