On recognizing again my surroundings, the way my body feels cold-alive when bared to rain
using Sappho’s fragment 21
We walk along the bridge,
rain drifting as if effortlessly,
filling each sidewalk indent. A pity
that not all physical objects exhibit trembling
in the face of surprising ability,
that I have to remind my flesh by now old age
is showing in my face the way a shadow covers
parts of me as a bird flies in pursuit
of another bird and makes me see
magpies everywhere, posture noble
and invested in the act of taking
the way black-billed magpies sing to us
the one with violets in her lap
through both sides of a beak while mostly
listening before each breath goes astray.
Source: Sappho. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Translated by Anne Carson, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
Jeremy Michael Reed is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee. His poems and essays are published in Oxidant|Engine, Still: The Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is the editor-in-chief of Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, associate editor of Sundress Publications, and assistant to Joy Harjo.