Posts Tagged ‘birds’

for Christie

Deep in the snowy woods,
we startle at the sound
of starlings as they braid
above the branches.
How often do I miss
the song of the moment?
But today, beside you
I could not miss
the sweet shushing of skis,
the sacred huff of breath,
the lyric of our laughter
and the strong refrain of my heart
as it wheeled like a starling,
a wild and soaring thing
drawn to fly with others,
ready to sing for no reason
except the joy of singing.

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letting the stars name me

after them—

unpronounceable things happen


building a throne

out of meadowlark song—

kingdom with no borders


holding hands with the sun

wishing it would go

to second base

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Just a few steps from the house

I find a place to sit on a rock

and wait for the trill of the red wing blackbird.


I have waited twenty years to hear it here

in my back yard full of water and willows

and quiet. All day, though intermittent, I’ve heard it.


Funny how much I enjoy the waiting tonight—

perhaps because I know that eventually

the bright call will come. It is, perhaps, like a girl,


waiting through her first date for her first kiss—

she’s pretty sure it will happen, and now, after

years of waiting, she suddenly has


all the time in the world. In fact, the waiting

is delicious—like champagne, dry, with tiny bubbles.

Like summer’s first raspberries—a little too tart,


and yet sweet enough to eat another and another.

I sit in the goldening world and wait and wait.

I listen to the jays as they squawk and the warbler’s


sharp chirp. The wind teases my hair and I wait

until I forget I am waiting, simply noticing the world.

By the time I hear the familiar trill, it greets me


like the old friend it is, then it’s silent again.

The way the sun seems most lovely just before it’s gone,

that’s how the silence holds me.

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The kingfisher wakes me

with its strident rattle,

thrilling me out of sleep.

It’s been months since

I’ve seen one, and now

on this snowy morning

one clatters and chatters

me into spring.


The heart leaps up,

surprised it doesn’t

have wings. I’m here,

it beats, its own tuneless call.

Like the kingfisher, it’s ready

to dive into the deep.

I’m here, it calls again

from inner branches.


It need not be beautiful,

the song that reminds us

who we are—it calls to us

in its own undecipherable way

until one day when we hear it,

we can’t help but hear

our own name.


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The News



Just as I had settled into doom,

I heard the wild call of the first geese of spring

come screeching through the window.


I leapt up like a woman desperate

for good news—leapt up and ran to the window

in time to see a pair land on the pond,


splashing against the water. They quieted

immediately after alighting. And then,

there was only the sound  of me watching them.


How graceful they were in the pond,

the water wrinkled behind them, as if their arrival

were the only news, the only news worth telling.


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One Before Evening Comes



in the dry field of hope

the rattling bugle of sandhill cranes—

the sky alive with great wings

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They know that birds see many more colors

than humans can—and they know that

their plumage has become, over millions of years,

more colorful, more dazzling, more bright.

But why, they wonder, can the birds see

colors they do not have in their feathers?

Why haven’t they developed the ability

to produce ultraviolet yellow or ultraviolet red?


I know that there is beauty I see in others

that I do not yet see in myself: People

who leave bottles of water in the desert

of west Texas. A 94-year-old man in Iowa

who has given away 6,000 Hershey’s

milk chocolate bars to connect

with the people in his changing hometown.

A 13-year-old girl who has raised $80,000

to save dogs from being euthanized.

A woman who chooses forgiveness.


I want to believe that to see is to invite evolution.
I want to believe that through sight, my own heart will develop

the way plumage might, more dazzling, more bright.

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Somewhere in the 100 billion cells

of my brain is the memory

of the playground in second grade

when Jenny told me birds could fly

because their bones were hollow,

and, she reasoned, if we could lose

enough weight, we, too,

could have hollow bones, and we, too

could fly.


Surely linked to that memory

are thousands of other neurons

that disprove her claim—

neurons related to air pressure, thrust,

strong breast muscles, osteoporosis—

but there is, perhaps,

still one cell in there somewhere

across the synaptic gap,

that lights up at the memory

of Jenny’s suggestion

as if to say,

wow, that’s cool,

let’s try it.












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Just today my son asked

if birds were mammals.

No, I said, without looking up.

Then are they reptiles, he said,

and I thought no, but then

I thought maybe, and then I said,

I don’t know. Turns out some

classify yes and others say no.

There are so many ways

to see the world.

I think of scaly feet and believe

the crocodile and heron

could be cousins.

I think of intersections.

It’s not a surprise

humans arrive at different answers,

what surprises me is how

there are questions I no longer ask.

Like the nature of a bird.

Like the nature of love.

How many other questions

are gathering dust or are waiting

to be found?

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the bird inside me
I miss its song—
this morning was so quiet
watching frost melt
on the fallen leaves


did I, too, forget
how to sing?
did I also
fly away
from myself?


my hands
do not need to be asked—
they move unbidden
to touch the places
on my body
where the pain


and here
and here
and here—
touch me here
and here
and here


what use is a tongue?
what use is song?
what use these hands?
what use silence?


who is the one
who thinks of the world
in terms of usefulness?


it was a long time
before I heard
the leaves had a song
of their own
but only
I moved


the nest
is still here
you’re not looking
I fold up my
silence, my
hands, my
and hide


is it
so wrong
I pretend
I am

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