I Unstop Myself

Stephanie Harper
Content Warnings
“The puffed-up mockingbird examines me from a naked redbud branch…”
Jan 24, 2022 5:14 PM

—After Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself 52

The puffed-up mockingbird examines me from a naked redbud branch…

He wonders at my lavender balaclava and my mouthless face.

I too am buffered by cloud-gray, I too am inimitable,

I save my carefree flights for gentler winds.

As the kosher-salt crust atop the drifts glints at me,

Its false solidity tempting my descent to the lake,

I freeze like a cotton-tail in a hungry fox’s sights.

I soften in this midday sun’s six-degree tincture,

I feather my sighs in vapor, hovering, lenticular in the frozen blue.

I unstop myself and sublimate the song of warming snow.

Watch overhead for my white-banded blaze.

You might not think my pale trills bear repeating,

But I will foster your purest tenors regardless,

And steel and sanctify your voice.

Seeking my contours within the sedge come artlessly,

Listening for my cleverest Cooper’s-Hawk call accept my silence,

The winter I weather nests also in you.