by Sun Paik
It has been hours and they haven’t left my windowsill,
the magpies I mean, whose beaks peck the melted storm,
whose talons tap tap tap the puddles like they’re auditioning for
Singin’ in the Rain, their sharp toes wicking away
flecks of dirt scattered on the water. How long
must they have waited to dance like this?
How impatient must they have been,
their wings panting against the heat of August,
then stilling in the city’s delay of winter?
And then, finally, to receive the arctic jazz,
the peppered carpet of sooted snow. I swear,
in one moment you see them hopping around and the next
you are remembering the assembly at your school gym
sitting with the other first graders in neat, fidgety rows
with Hello, my name is stickers stuck to our polo shirts,
only to have it be followed with Astronaut, or Ballerina,
as if in passing we would wave to each other and say,
Hello, Guinness World Record Breaker! Hello, Zoologist!
or at the cafeteria, we would lean against the long plastic tables, asking
Hey, Beauty Queen, could you pass me a napkin, pretty please and thank you.
I had forgotten how easy the work of dreaming used to be,
how, like birds, we rebelled against the air’s given song and thought
nothing of it, how we ate soft jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off,
and ran in the sugar-rush high over to whatever sandbox or patch of grass
available to us. How we bowled over from laughter and collapsed on the ground,
letting the earth stain our name tags with dirt, and still felt untouchable.
Sun Paik is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet. She currently resides in San Francisco.