Liz Ahl

A Nest in the Palm of Your Hand

In this photograph, your grubby gloves removed,
abandoned handless on the stoop, a brief interruption
of your gardening, which I always admire for its rough and tumble,
how the labor of it leaves you be-twigged in the hair, dirt-smudged, 
bramble-slashed, but in this moment, you pause, shed the gloves 
of roughness to knock at the sliding glass door, 
where you have brought to show me what you found:

an empty nest small enough to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand,
which you offer up first to me, then to the camera I point,
strange, artful bowl, adorned with a puff of something white, 
as if the builder decorated the nest with a piece of cloud,
a finishing touch, a flourish, a fancy.

We’re pretty sure this empty means finished, means hatched, 
not plundered; it’s late enough in the season, we imagine, though really 
we know nothing but to notice and to show, notice and show, 
the fragments and questions and nods and mysteries
the world offers us, and also from time to time 
to show one another ourselves, to notice one another, 

to offer in our upturned palms some new piece, 
stray syllable of a word we’re still practicing, or some other tender, 
partly built thing. Something fragile and lasting.
Something that looks entirely improvised but isn’t.
Small miracle of grass and dust.

link to video 

Liz Ahl is the author of Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2017) as well as several chapbooks including A Thirst That's Partly Mine, which won the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook prize. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in New Verse News, Limp Wrist, One Art: A Journal of Poetry, Able Muse, West Trestle Review, and Quartet Literary Journal. She lives in New Hampshire.