streams of consciousness

When we take a general view of the wonderful stream of our consciousness, what strikes us first is the different pace of its parts. Like a bird’s life, it seems to be an alternation of flights and perchings.
-William James


Two finches rise on a wave of sparrows,
perch on the stem of a dry thistle, rise
and rise again when the wave rises
over a scrap of prairie beyond

a temporary fence that stands between them
and a stream of traffic rushing the other way.

Finches glitter gold on the wave of gray
sparrows, like light breaking on living water.
A crumbling walk follows the fence, as do I,
perching when the finches perch until

there is an opening where I can cross
to a new path on the other side

that snakes around old trees toward Osaka
Garden. One broken tree has knelt
toward the water for years, and I
stop to pray with it while

a cardinal watches from the ground
before she flies to the top of a standing tree.


Just beyond Yoko’s lotus,
I pass through a gate onto a path
that makes it hard to walk

without leaving a trail
of sound. I keep my good eye
on the pond where a heron sometimes
stands waiting in shallow water. The heron
appears in the corner of the other
eye, and eye to eye we stand

until he turns and wades into the water
to wait for one god or the other
to trouble it with a miracle he can eat.


This whole scene rests on what remains of an exposition
that erected a white city and remembered an invasion
as a discovery four hundred years after the fact.

And this city began discarding
the ground beneath our feet long ago
to push back a body of water. I

stop again to watch the heron, standing on
long thin legs, still, waiting, on the other shore,
like a flood, I think, like a memory of water.

©Steven Schroeder

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