Under the deep needle thatch
more needles, and under those,
shanks of needles and darkly thinning hunks,
the ghost bones of had-been needles.
A slurry of carapace and pupal shale,
a billion desiccate curds, pellet and turd
and the vast imponderable leavings
I love to scratch through, a kind of sub-continent,
a wilderness domesticated by rot,
in which, every now and then, I unearth
and turn up once again to the sun
some thing that my eyes might cherish
more than the suckling mouths of microbes do —
this delicate white arch, for instance, the mandible of a vole;
this mummified pin feather shank, its boutonniere
of down like the gray wiry hair in a god’s ear;
or strangest of all, this odd isosceles triangle
made of interlocked paper clips and rust.
I dangle it on an autumn bare syringa twig
where a junco might find it and by any bird’s standards
build with it a superior nest.

Robert Wrigley lives near Moscow, Idaho. His most recent book is Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems.