Thunderbird

First published in Poetry Nippon (October 2010 issue, in which I was featured poet). Originally written around 1995 (I need to look up the date). Unfortunately, the Thunderbird Bookshop, which inspired this poem, is now closed, a victim of corporate chain stores and Internet retailing. I always enjoyed visiting the store in Carmel, California after attending the annual Asilomar haiku retreat in Pacific Grove, and had visited for more than ten years straight before I moved from California in 2002. I’m sorry the store is no longer there, as it was one of those special bookshops where you felt that you were home.

 

        (Carmel, California)

 

Lights out,

the bookstore looks closed when we arrive

yet its double doors stand open.

An employee perches on a counter, arms raised,

and another flaps a piece of cardboard in the dark.

 

They wish to save a hummingbird.

 

Choosing a book on kundalini by colour

and finding it unsatisfying,

the bird flits off to World War II,

then self-help psychology.

She must surely long for fuchsias.

 

For now the bird whirrs around an emergency light,

but the moon of twilight in a moment

will lure her out to a library of flowers,

to the poetry of bedded plants.

Inside, the lights will blink on,

and we will pause here, stop there,

pick up Neruda or Swift,

and drink our own deep nectar.