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Posts Tagged ‘bird’

Morning Encouragement




I would like to be a kingfisher—
just for a morning.
I’d arrive at the edge of the pond
with the other kingfishers
and watch for crawdads.
“Catchin’ any?” I’d say
to the birds on my right.
“Nah,” they’d say,
“But we keep trying.”
“Good luck,” I’d say,
as took my own spot
in the branches,
waiting for the pond to still
so I could see the movement
at the bottom.
“Good luck,” they’d squawk back,
then they’d rattle with laughter
when at last I broke the pond surface
and came up, beak empty.
“Tough day at the pond,”
they’d rib. And I’d laugh, too.
Then we’d dive and dive and dive.
So often I come up empty.
How is it I sometimes forget to laugh?
But that morning,
every now and then,
one bird would get lucky.
“Your turn next,” she’d say,
her mouth full of shell.
And I’d laugh at how unglamorous
success can be. How crunchy.
All morning we’d go on like this,
diving and missing
and crunching and missing
and laughing and missing
so that by noon
when I was human again,
when I came up empty as I often do—
hungry for love, or eloquence or purpose—
I’d say to myself, “try again, darlin,”
and I’d try again, then break out
into a laughter wildly true,
the world rippling around me
like a pond that I trust
will eventually still.

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for Paul Fericano and so many others


I turn first to the chapter
on techniques for broken wings.
I learn of contour splints and anchor tape
and reasons why most broken wings
should not be completely immobilized.

I am not so unlike an injured bird.
Struck down by grief, I too, am unable to fly.
Even walking, I find I’m off balance.
I’m best treated without an audience.
I heal best with absolute calm.

I was unsure at first why my friend
would have sent me—along with tea,
chocolate, crackers and sweet biscuits—
a book on “kitchen healing:”
how to treat injured wildlife at home.

But there beneath the image
of a simple wing break, I read,
a sentence like a prophecy:
“Nature starts the healing process
almost as soon as the injury occurs.”

And I feel, to my surprise,
the tender places where the bones
of my wings no longer protrude.
And though my joints are rigid,
with supports, I’m recovering.

And I am thankful for all the hands of friends—
unskilled, untrained, yet willing to try.
Hands that send letters and blankets
and feathers and books. Calm hands
that help heal these fractures until I can fly.


*Quote from Care of the Wild Feathered & Furred: A Guide to Wildlife Handling & Care by Mae Hickman and Maxine Guy (Unity Press, 1973)

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At the Houston Zoo



Not the chuckwalla
nor the cheetah nor the capybara,
it was the pigeon
I couldn’t stop watching
as it sat on its nest
in the tall sturdy grass
beside the glassed-in walls
of the chimpanzees
with its fluffy grey chicks
tucked against its grey breast.
She looked as if she belonged
exactly where she was—oh
how I cherish that feeling.

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Certainty is a frigatebird,
able to soar on the wind for weeks,
its nest a distant thing.
Is it wrong to say I admire it,
sleek and raven feathered,
how it dives from the sky
with exquisite precision,
how it steals what it wants
with no regard for what’s fair.
I have wanted to be that certain,
wanted to take, wanted to believe
my hunger is all that matters.
Is it wrong to notice these thoughts,
to give voice to their midnight wings?
I say I trust what I don’t know.
Meanwhile, I flirt with certainty.
It whispers to me,
I’m the other truest thing.

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on the way to the graveyard
taking a few detours through spring—
trill of red wing blackbirds

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On a Full Moon Night




The three-note song of the owl
opens the night
with a single repeated note.
Hoo hoo hoo.

Listening for the song again,
I find myself opening to silence.
Then there it is:
Hoo hoo hoo.

Scientists say
the owl is sending a message:
This is mine,
my territory, my space.
But instead of being repelled,
I’m pulled in.

I sing back to the owl
three resonant notes.
Hoo hoo hoo.
Not to stake my territory.
More out of admiration
for the power of a simple song.

It teaches me to trust
what is artless,
how sometimes simplicity
is what allows others, like me,
to sing along.

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Sometimes I want to be anywhere but here,
but today, I let myself feel it all.

I go to the river covered in ice,
and move along the bank until

I find the open places where the dark-feathered ouzel
chooses to submerge in the cold, cold water—

It doesn’t hesitate to plunge into frigid depths.
It knows it was made for this.

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No French hens, but
the Stellar’s jays arrived
at the feeder as always
in a squawk of bright blue,
inquisitive, cocking
their crested heads
and letting their dark eyes
take in everything.
Everything, no matter
how dingy, how small, is worthy
of their attention,
even the black seed, even
the wind, even the bark,
even this woman standing
in the snow, listening.
 

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Think less: Trust your inner animal.
            —Holiday Mathis, Horoscopes by Holiday, December 19, 2020


It’s the chickadee
that saves me today.
Though the world
gets cold, the chickadee
stays. Despite snow.
Despite frost. Despite
lack of sun,
it doesn’t leave
the winter land.
Oh tough little bird
who sticks around,
who thrives
in any weather—
who’s cheerful tune
spirals like hope
through the frigid
folds of December
as if to say let it come.
I can sing through
anything.
Let it come.

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Getting Ready

What might you need to let go of or “clean out” in order to make room for wonder or joy?

—Kayleen Asbo, Advent and the Arts: The Week of Hope

Just today I walked

in the shadows

and noticed how

they scrubbed me

the way silence sometimes

scrubs a room.

Wonder rushed in.

It wasn’t that I was trying

to keep wonder out,

it’s just that with my schedule

and rigor, I hadn’t left it

space to enter.

If only with mop

and broom I could sweep

out anything

that would keep me

from wonder, from joy.

Instead, the world offers

shadow, stillness,

quietude, loss,

and a red-tailed hawk

in the heart,

circling, circling,

wondering what

it might subtract next.

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