Beside a dead canary I whisper, you are not dead,
lipstick still on its wing, folded over a shadow.
Canary, who first told you about mortality?
Your mother in the ochre nest, or the hawk
who held your sister so hard against the sky
she disappeared? A boy watches a very old man
standing naked in the shower of a locker room,
the man stands utterly still with his arms at his sides,
his body rippled and varied as the water about him.
He holds his head down as one sentenced to death
but in his eyes he looks so in love, in love with a holy land.
Cars painted the color of candy follow one another.
Crows gather atop a roof, a black crown on the
blue-white supermarket, they cast shadows
the shape of sleeping children. When the crows alight
See, even shadows can't stay here forever, Canary;
we who are the children of shadows can only lie
still for so long. This is what love is,
this is Bethlehem, and we are not dead.
Paul Adler is a recent graduate of Skidmore College where he received a BA in English literature and studio art. This fall Paul will be attending Columbia University to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Currently Paul lives in New York City and works at the PEN American Center.