To the reader (from a poet, with love)

by Amy Wolstenholme

Leave the poem where you found it. It was never yours,
and besides, it has a dangerous song. Can you not hear
the blade in that soft, serrated edge where you casually
scrape your thumb? Listen to the way the light screams
when it comes to rest on these bands of black and white.
A poem is not a feather, nor was intended to provide wings.

But then, it was the siren song of flight, always, that reeled
them in. Perhaps you came to the page in wonder at that hook,
or to discover how it is a hand makes music by bleeding
through a pen. But I found you instead. For you also have a
song, just there, just beating in the sweet pulse of your head.

Together perhaps, or maybe it was just you, or most probably me,
            (with slippery guilt)
Somewhere later in your room or by the fire, we dipped the tip
of the feather in the ink, to stir up those hidden lyrics, to try to find
meaning in words, but, leave it.
                                                            (There was never meant to be one.)

Alone in the wide, dark book, your shoulder blades are a chit
owed to the beast, and I will make them split with wings. So take
the only worldly sound you own, your quavering voice, and sing.

There was tune too,
            (did you hear it? I did), in the page that spoke
of the tree that grew, and was cut down. Now simply background.
Perhaps this is where we should have begun, not with the feather
but with the bird, but still we stumbled on through in reverse,

so all that will remain, all that will stay to define the shape of you –
            the poet, tightly circling, scraping
            the last crumbs from the ground.

But you and your sound were already somewhere else by then,
somewhere that I could not follow. You, with your stolen feather
in your fist, imagining how it would be to fly. You shout the word

that signifies you to the sky, and in that undying song,
in that deep ballad of your name, I place mine,
in your careless echo.