The blue jays lay claim
to the raspberry bush
arriving in groups of four or five:
one holds a rubied berry in its beak
and feeds it up in the white pine to another
as if placing the bones of the canonized
into a gilded reliquary, and I think of the saint
for the mentally ill, beheaded by her father
who was blinded by desire
for his daughter; what became of him
but the colorless thread of grief,
a blind man who opened his eyes too late.
All grievances come to a head
like a champagne bottle shaken and shaken,
the cork volunteering its own release — my husband alone
in a hotel room, after the pills came the decision to empty himself,
the deep red circling his body becoming his own nimbus:
an ascension of sorts. I worried for his soul
and if he’d dwell in Hell: Boschian beasts
perched and ready for torture, exploding cities,
tooth-and-tonged caves waiting for the damned.
I hear the jays mocking a poor chickadee’s attempt
at reaching the fruit; it’s no wonder in legend
they are the devil’s servant not to be encountered on a Friday
as they might be found fetching sticks
down to Hell, but I know better, I can tell,
they do no one’s bidding but their own.
Copyright © 2020 by Didi Jackson. Reprinted with permission from Moon Jar (Red Hen Press). All rights reserved. Didi Jackson’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. She currently teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University.