They could be with you or the someone else
on the object they hold as they walk along
next to you, so you go online to check
having learned to navigate peripherally
even in spring as blossoms compete with the sky
in color saturation and bees pop up
advertising scent and pollen, your eyes
flickering like a defective screen, teared
and itching from ambient pornography,
the sweet hectoring of horny warblers
and lusty cardinals and jays, just as
you walk down the street side by side checking
images from elsewhere and tweets from beyond
the slightly less intrusive world around you
and when you put the device back and look,
the two of you, at each other and around
the trees newly leafed seem improbable.
The demanding season, promoting sprawl,
while burdens of culling the spoil from last fall's
forgotten herbage make an urgent call
on hours best suited for observing all
the feathered migrants who this time of year
conjure a spell when they simply appear.
Blistered from spade and fork, crusty with sweat,
rasped by clouds of pollen, wearied, and yet
amazed by blossoms and the rakish set
of a warbler's beak as it sifts the leaves
newly sprouted to weave infinities
of caverns and shifting balconies.
It had all seemed dead, or nearly so, just
a week ago, as I came to the fire
to read from bookshelves snowbound in dust.
Not little things but little short of all
we hope for when we think of it or feel
what life could be beyond the money spent
in hopes of comfort or validation
from the images in a catalog
or the music and voices from the screen
where everyone seems delighted with the car
or counter tops and carpets, where worlds
distill to number sequences on cards
and all the friends who "like" your purchases.
It's the other little things that disagree,
from the honeysuckle spilling over
the chain link fence that fastens every yard
to the next in a chain of property
that couldn't hold a hummingbird at rest.
M. A. Schaffner has had poems published in Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Agni, and elsewhere -- most recently in Hermes, Modern Poetry Review, and Pennsylvania Review. Long-ago-published books include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia juggling a Toshiba laptop and a Gillott 404.