Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Bird Poet

Jennifer Heinicke

Issue 8 * Spring 2002


I copy your eye movements in the dark.
Our eyebrows raise in unison and fall silently.
We connect; we nod knowingly.


I feel your hand on my leg and I twist
Coyly away to see if you'll pursue.
Later I look for bruises, a marking of the territory.


Downcast eyes greet me as I walk in the room.
I wonder what you've been thinking or saying.
I leave; you ask me to come back. I sit in silence.


Under a pink lamp, I read what we've written.
Each playful jab grows fondly until
It is completely removed from reality.


You populate my dreams. You enter my home
And sit at the kitchen table. You watch me
Wash dishes, cook Minute Rice, and eat.


You placed red fall leaves in my hair
As we walked to lunch. I have them in my hand now
And they are surprisingly brittle.


I feel you watch me as I sleep. You connect
Me to the others who have rested under your gaze
And I no longer feel alone.


Frustratingly you call. I hate it when I can't
Read your eyes. You do this on purpose
So your eyes won't betray us.


Eight men have told me I have beautiful eyes.
They admired the dark ring on the perimeter of my irises
Before they told me they loved me. You are silent.


You distance yourself from the person who
Grabbed for me and stared at me. Each day
You assert the difference between the two.


I see canyons where I once saw valleys
And I can't remember the exact color of your eyes
Anymore. Your expression is southwestern Utah.


You ask me not to touch you. You forbid me
To shake your hand, to say hello, to pretend
That we even saw each other in the hallway.


Your eyes don't connect with me now. You look
Past me, out the window. There is nothing
I can parrot back to you now.