The bird book called him America’s most
gaudy bird. Some said the king cakes
in New Orleans were gaudy
and the Mardi Gras beads too,
gold, green, and purple inelegance
thrown from floats in the parade. Now
in central Texas, I look for this
bird in the Lost Pine Forest
wondering if he will be gaudy,
like the brassy god inside me
and the twinkling drag queens
who introduced me to the next world.
I want the sight of this bird to cut
my breath like the first time I saw two
men kiss and then there he is
a blue head and hood,
bold red eye liner, lime
green shoulder wings, red breast
and belly, yellow
in the places in between: painted bunting.
My heart—a revelry, a carnival feast,
a flashy and flamboyant beating.