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Posts Tagged ‘bird’

These warm summer evenings
I take in the nighthawks
looping above the field.
I take in their fast and agile flight,
take in their long and pointed wings.
Come winter, I will be grateful
to have stored such things.
When the nighthawks are gone
and the world is dim,
I will want to remember thema—
their aerialist displays, the way
they make of the dusk a playground,
the way the whole night
seems to hang on an angling wing—
Oh summer is such a generous thing.
Even the dark is charged with the thrill
of living. Even this heart, wounded
and bruised, can’t help but open
to the wheeling of nighthawks,
how they arc and sweep
as the sun disappears
and then continue their swooping
long after the light is gone.

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We gather at my brother’s home
and his wife has ordered 57 duck calls.
They were not in time for the party,
but when we arrive to find them
on the front stoop, immediately
we open the box and almost a dozen adults
begin blowing on the duck calls—
not just once or twice,
but for twenty minutes
we make rising calls, falling calls,
sharp quick staccato calls,
calls to the beat of Bridge Over the River Kwai.
It is loud and raucous and somewhere
in heaven, my father I am sure
was blowing, too, and giggling
until tears ran down his cheeks
and he rubbed his wet eyes with his fists.
There were tears today, sobs, even,
but my god tonight how we laughed
as we made the sound my father loved—
the sound to call in the birds.
How it called in his memory, startling
and alive—how I felt him wing in—
not sure if the tears on my cheeks
were his or mine.

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Beyond Words


for Daisy


And though I expect the bride
to say I do, I don’t expect her
to say it with such sweet candor,
both syllables thrumming as if
they each have a heartbeat of their own.
I do, she trills, thrilling in the promise
to have, to hold,
to love from this day forward.
Her voice is a meadowlark,
a bright flush of wing and song,
and what can I do but laugh
and weep into that golden moment
when I and the others gathered
know ourselves not just as witnesses
but as the lucky wind
that touches such beauty
then lifts it up for the world to see.  

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Just after sunrise,
I hear it, the bright airy trill
of the red-winged blackbird—
and before my eyes
are even open,
I feel a wild resonance
with the waking world,
the certainty I belong
to this day with its rising sun
and scent of green grass,
its breeze reaching in
through the screens;
I belong to this day
with my creature heart
that already this morning
longs to hold what it cannot,
longs to comfort others,
even knowing how
sorrow must be felt.
I belong to the song
of the red-winged blackbird
as it calls out again,
belong to the silence
as he waits for an answer.
And waits. And waits.
I belong to the spring
every bit as much
as I belong to winter.
This is perhaps
the conundrum of love,
no matter how strong the ache,
we still belong
to the world of beauty,
this world that calls to us
even in our sleep,
wakes us with a promise
strung like audible garland
across the dawn—
you belong, you belong.

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Evolution




There comes a time when
the life you have
meets the life you once had
and you stare at that old life
as if it’s a beautiful bird
with a haunting song so familiar
you can’t stop yourself
from singing along.
Isn’t it strange
how quickly things change,
how already you’ve forgotten
some of the words.
How already, your wings
have changed color.

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This Season


 
 
It is true, every day
brings a sadness—
sometimes like a blizzard,
sometimes like sleet,
sometimes like a clear morning
of fifteen below,
but I do not wish any of it away.
 
On the coldest mornings here,
the birds that choose to stay
fluff up their feathers
to trap in the chill air,
warming it with their own bodies
until it becomes their insulation.
 
This is, perhaps, how it is with grief—
by holding it close,
it transforms from something
that would hurt me
to something I infuse
with my own being,
thus becoming something
that allows me to survive.
 
It would be wrong
to say I like it. But I hear
how, with every day,
it is teaching me
a new way to sing.

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It’s Christmas and the yard,
grassy again from unseasonal rain,
is abloom with dozens of robins—
robins flitting and bobbing
and weaving unpredictable paths
with their dark gray wings.
They seem harbingers
of an unexpected spring,
as if life is asking them to be more alive
just when it seems as if
everything is dead.
How could I be more alive?
I love that these birds know
how to survive—love that
come winter, they flock.
Because more eyes means
more chances to spot food.
Because more eyes means
fewer chances to become food themselves.
I, too, have been flocking
this winter—surrounding myself
with other eyes, other hearts,
other wings, other minds.
It feels good to be one of many,
to trust my kind. It feels good
to fly together for this
tenderest time. The truth is,
it isn’t easy. The truth is,
we were made for this.

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Becoming the Bird




Once on a bridge
I had met a hope,
a radiant maybe,
a glint of perhaps,
but I am so far
from that glint today
that when I stand
again on that bridge
I almost hate hope
with its stupid wings,
always promising
to carry us toward
something better.
I stand on that bridge
and stand on that bridge,
my inner perch
empty, silent.
I turn to face
the autumn wind.
It batters my bare skin. 
I sing full-throat into the gale.
 




*This poem is in conversation with Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers …” which you can find here

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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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