Frederick Wilbur

The Burden: a Meditation Unable to sleep in a Comfort Inn west of Abingdon,I leave the numbered room, sneak into the rouge fog of parking lots, and head for the ragged meadow bordering the interstate—dirge of tractor-trailers rising and falling in pure mechanics,struggling with heavy cargoes. Afterhours of superficial answers in an aimless odyssey, I noticea pale form lying under blackberries like trash after a rock concert.Closer, squatting, I see a man, curiously familiar,like that body in Blow Up, the squarish build, skilled hands,face young, yet with beard bleaching.With sweaty heart, I think to wake him, but vultures have swooped to steal his eyesas if in noonday revelation; yellow jackets flicker in alien codes, wormscavort in tented bones. Nauseated, I turn away—sleep does not have this double vision.I close my eyes to see in present darkness the slow bloating of credentials, the mediocre body or work forgotten, the river of thought finally pissed out—to see the blue wood aster blooming from his sockets, foxtail grassdancing the radius and ulna,body vanishing, the promise composted. From Leo’s mouth I walkthe proselytizing dawn, shoes soakedwith a walk on water, burrs like small print obituaries nag my jeans,the autumnal suffering reborn in another spider season. Of Hummingbirds: a Meditation At the window feeder, hummingbirdsharass each other with an energywe might envy, tiny impulsesalong the nerve of evening—a busy airport with no crashes.They are clever thoughts, acrobatsof parabolas almost in spite of themselves.I observe thoughts from a darkening room.Made of nearly nothing but twitteringthey dissolve into deepening greensinto past light, their visits less frequent.In black the feeder is empty. Fred Wilbur is a professional woodcarver who lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.