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Frederick Wilbur

                                                            The Burden: a Meditation



                                           to sleep

                                                 in a Comfort Inn

                                       west of Abingdon,

I leave the numbered room, sneak

            into the rouge fog of parking lots,

            and head for the ragged meadow         

                        bordering the interstate—

dirge of tractor-trailers

            rising and falling in pure mechanics,

struggling with heavy cargoes.



hours of superficial answers

                        in an aimless odyssey,

            I notice

a pale form lying under blackberries

            like trash after a rock concert.

Closer, squatting, I see a man,

                                    curiously familiar,

like that body in Blow Up,

                        the squarish build, skilled hands,

face young, yet with beard bleaching.

With sweaty heart,

            I think to wake him,

                                    but vultures have swooped

                        to steal his eyes

as if in noonday revelation; yellow jackets

            flicker in alien codes, worms

cavort in tented bones.



            I turn away—sleep does not have

                                    this double vision.

I close my eyes to see in present darkness

            the slow bloating of credentials,

            the mediocre body or work forgotten,                                                              

the river of thought finally pissed out—

to see the blue wood aster

                        blooming from his sockets, foxtail grass

dancing the radius and ulna,

body vanishing, the promise composted.


From Leo’s mouth

                                    I walk

the proselytizing dawn, shoes soaked

with a walk on water,

            burrs like small print obituaries

                                    nag my jeans,

the autumnal suffering


                        in another

                                    spider season.  



                                     Of Hummingbirds: a Meditation


At the window feeder, hummingbirds

harass each other with an energy

we might envy, tiny impulses

along the nerve of evening—

a busy airport with no crashes.

They are clever thoughts, acrobats

of parabolas almost in spite of themselves.

I observe thoughts from a darkening room.

Made of nearly nothing but twittering

they dissolve into deepening greens

into past light, their visits less frequent.

In black the feeder is empty.



Fred Wilbur is a professional woodcarver who lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.