Ex Avibus A contemporary exposition of the mechanics of augury.

Yes, I know
that you hate the pert
exuberance of birds,
and yet, still, I find

myself grasping onto
that ballast of song
as if it were the only
counterpoint to this

shrieking storm of
mind; it helps fix
me into the vast
assemblage of things,

that makes up each
daily landscape, so
that I too might start
to belong here. And

startled by the
spells of recognition
I can no longer
distinguish image

from symbol:
lithop from pubis,
or iris from areola,
which explains why,

in this crepuscule
of confusion, I
search that green
flash of eye for

some trace of desire,
only to find a gust
of a sigh, the haft
of your grasp and the

blush of bruise on
your lips, as if any
attempt at explanation
would just stick in the

soft faults of palate
like the grit of these
words you strain to
spit out before they

spring into utterance,
as though you had
the patience to let
them become what

they were meant to be:
glyphs of cirrus on
the horizon or the
ciphered dub of a wood-

pecker drumming,
so that now I am unsure
of whether you
are even speaking,

or I am just listening
to the flush of dusk.
It is like when we are
about to fall asleep

and I ask “what was that?”
and you say nothing,
because, of course,
it was obvious.

Brook Johnson is an American poet and international development consultant. He lived in Namibia from 2015 to 2018. He studied creative writing at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA, as an undergraduate. His poems have been published in the Oxford and Cambridge May Anthology.