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A Bird at the Leather Mill


The crane stood in the center of the floor

Of the mill, lost and tentative.  Its bill

Looked like a fancy awl with a down handle.

It wore its wings as though they were a shawl

Thrown on an idiot.  At first the men

Imagined that a person had strolled in

Like a green salesman or a debutante.

And when the crane walked toward the loading dock,

The men on tip-toes prowled with laundry bags

To grab and hold it like a secret hope

In a place of exile.  Later on, at lunch,

They took turns, each explaining what he'd do

If it came back.  They bragged, or chaffed, aware

The thing was lost, though never saying so.


Joshua Mehigan



1995; originally printed in Illinois Review.  Reprinted by
permission of the author.


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