Old Heroes

by Amy Jirsa

To love what is easy
is easy: that red maple
leaf, this photo of your father
as a boy in 1945, the view
from a mountain in autumn,
the river and the way it carries
on, shouldering time and yet
always present.

But what about the seagull
skull I found on the shore,
just a wide-eyed piece
of cartilage trailing a lacy
tail of vertebrae? Or the fox’s
body on the side of the road,
slowly decaying? The writhing
fist of maggots opens suddenly
as bright green flies, their green
no less, despite their dark birth.

And when this body has deflated
and ribs like fingers cup what’s left
of its last breath, who mourns?
Who rejoices as it sacrifices
itself to feed this weedy ditch,
the dandelions and Queen Anne’s lace?

AMY JIRSA lives in Maine and spends much time shoveling snow and watching tides. Her poems have appeared in journals including Watershed, Chantarelle’s Notebook, and Stolen Island Review. She will receive her MA in creative writing from the University of Maine in May of 2010.