27,000 Miles

Albert Goldbarth

These two asleep . . . so indrawn and compact,
like lavish origami animals returned
to slips of paper once again; and then
the paper once again become a string
of pith, a secret that the plant hums to itself . . . .
You see? — so often we envy the grandiose, the way
those small toy things of Leonardo’s want to be
the great, air-conquering and miles-eating
living wings
they’re modeled on.  And the bird flight is
amazing: simultaneously strength,
escape, caprice: the Arctic tern completes
its trip of nearly 27,000 miles every year;
a swan will frighten bears away
by angry aerial display of flapping wingspan.
But it isn’t all flight; they also
fold; and at night on the water or in the eaves
they package their bodies
into their bodies, smaller, and deeply
smaller yet: migrating a similar distance
in the opposite direction.
Copyright © 2007 by Albert Goldbarth. Reprinted from The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972-2007 with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Poems by This Author

How Simile Works by Albert Goldbarth
The drizzle-slicked cobblestone alleys
Lullabye by Albert Goldbarth
sleep, little beansprout
Photographs of the Interiors of Dictators' Houses by Albert Goldbarth
It's as if every demon from hell with aspirations
Shawl by Albert Goldbarth
Eight hours by bus, and night
The Sciences Sing a Lullabye by Albert Goldbarth
Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
Units by Albert Goldbarth
This is the pain you could fit in a tea ball

Further Reading

Poems About Animals and Pets
from The Kitten and Falling Leaves
by William Wordsworth
I Am! Said the Lamb [excerpt]
by Theodore Roethke
Jubilate Agno, Fragment B, [For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]
by Christopher Smart
A Crocodile
by Thomas Lovell Beddoes
A List of Praises
by Anne Porter
A Noiseless Patient Spider
by Walt Whitman
Animals and Art
by Ron Padgett
At Bay
by Carl Phillips
At the Zoo
by William Makepeace Thackeray
by Paisley Rekdal
Darwin's Finches
by Deborah Digges
by Laura Elizabeth Richards
Epitaph to a Dog
by George Gordon Byron
Flamingo Dreams
by William Saphier
Freedom in Ohio
by Jennifer Chang
From the Canal
by Michael Dickman
by Rigoberto González
Goldfish Are Ordinary
by Stacie Cassarino
by Ron Padgett
by Daniel Waters
Ho Ho Ho Caribou
by Joseph Ceravolo
horse vision
by Julian T. Brolaski
How Doth the Little Busy Bee
by Isaac Watts
Journey aka OR7
by Gerard Malanga
Leda and the Swan
by W. B. Yeats
Maine Seafood Company
by Matthew Dickman
Me and the Otters
by Dorothea Lasky
by Wyatt Prunty
Nonsense Alphabet
by Edward Lear
On Viewing the Skull and Bones of a Wolf
by Alexander Posey
Orkney Interior
by Ian Hamilton Finlay
Prayer from a Mouse
by Sarah Messer
by George Oppen
Quiet the Dog, Tether the Pony
by Marilyn Chin
Skunk Hour
by Robert Lowell
Testy Pony
by Zachary Schomburg
The Armadillo
by Elizabeth Bishop
The Barnacle and the Gray Whale
by Cecilia Llompart
The Bear
by Galway Kinnell
The Caterpillar
by Robert Graves
The Crocodile
by Lewis Carroll
The Dusk of Horses
by James Dickey
The Eagle
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Fly
by William Blake
The Future is an Animal
by Tina Chang
The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me
by Delmore Schwartz
The Lorca Variations (XXVIII)
"For Turtles"

by Jerome Rothenberg
The Moose
by Elizabeth Bishop
The Paper Nautilus
by Marianne Moore
The Parakeets
by Alberto Blanco
The Purple Cow
by Gelett Burgess
The Return
by Frances Richey
The Snail
by William Cowper
The Tyger
by William Blake
The Windhover
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
by Rae Armantrout
To a Mouse,
by Robert Burns
by Diane Seuss
Turn of a Year
by Joan Houlihan
Wild Gratitude
by Edward Hirsch
by Carl Sandburg
by Maxine Kumin