TWO POEMS BY MAGGIE SMITH
At the Ohio School for the Deaf
What must be hundreds of sparrows
race their flickering black shadows
across the wide white lawn,
a silent movie playing on the snow,
fast-forwarded, but what I call
silent isn’t. I can hear myself
The sometimes click of my jaw.
What must be hundreds of quiets
live here, some like a switch thrown
to nothing, some a wind-in-the-trees
whoosh, some like a fluttering
of wings projected on snow.
And look, if I tilt my wrist,
my watchface noiselessly busies
a tiny moon wherever I point it.
Today, summer is slang
a psalmist might have written. I cup in my hands
an idea of an idea
bordered by cornflowers and Queen Anne’s lace.
I wonder what this means. I rise into adult air—
the incredible bigness of, you know, all that sky
wealthy with rustling leaves
all over Ohio, gathering a reflection. Of what? Listen.
You hear that bird? Cardinal. Calling his wife
for something to happen. Nothing happens.
Life is funny but not.
The worst things are all true; I have been the girl,
a bird almost⎯of almost bird alarms,
and then again, and again, and then was gone.