Name a song further away than that.
Green-throated Carib,
Crested Honeykeeper.

I’m sitting in the post office parking lot
listening to the back-up beep
of a mail truck, this sheet

of sunstruck stamps in my lap:
islands for little rare things,
poised on their typical branches.

Look, says the postal service,
what sings in the world!
Sang? Music I didn’t know

existed, maybe already gone?
Is that why this Euphonia
turns his dark back toward me,

already intent on the silence
he’d hoped to fill with himself?
Does he perch anywhere

besides this white duchy,
a kingdom with no anthem?
Go ahead, share his little branch,

the quiet ahead of us
tuneless and long. But not really:
quick blast of car radio,

somebody’s ringtone, sirens, shouting.
It’s the page that’s silent,
the bright birds’ tiny page.

Mark Doty is the author of nine poetry books, three memoirs, a book-length lyric meditation on the art of the still life, and most recently, What Is the Grass, a personal interrogation of his life-long relationship with Walt Whitman’s works. He is professor of English and director of Writers House at Rutgers University.
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