the wax paper

Joanne Esser


What if you woke one morning to find

you were permeable to birdsong?

You’re walking the path through birch and oak;

it enters you at first the usual way.

A single note, then a trill, then more,

patterns repeat, a new voice joins,

an arpeggio. They weave under, over,

a pause; then higher, whirr, ree,

a long caw – You notice a tingle, your skin

lit up here, there, with sparks. Bits of song seep

through your pores, begin to fill each cell.

You, surprised, absorb it like raindrops

on parched ground. Into every empty

space their music pours. And still it comes!

You try to open, make room for

such audible force, continuous now.

Can you expand and expand

big enough to hold it all?

Or will you be like glass - a jar that fills

until it cannot hold one note more -

and crack? When the loon on the lake

cries her haunting grief, will you explode?

Joanne Esser writes poetry and nonfiction in Minneapolis, MN. She has also been a teacher of young children for over thirty years. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and published a chapbook of poems, I Have Always Wanted Lightning, with Finishing Line Press in 2012.