Posts Tagged ‘birds’

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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A Hunger

There is a thistle patch
between me
and the raw place in you
I would like to kiss.
I can see from here how wounded
it is, and how much good
just one little kiss
would do if only
you would let me
so tenderly kiss you.
Instead you throw
more thistle seeds
into the patch.
Oh darling, I get it.
I have pockets of thistle seeds, too.
Why is it so hard to love?
And so I put on the battle gear
to make it through the spines.
But I can see in your eyes
how scary that must look,
me in all that armor, thick gloves,
long shears.
I don’t have any answers.
I despise these gloves.
But here come the finches,
the juncos, pine siskins.
Look, lover,
here come the mourning doves.

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Of course you thought
we were feeding you.
What else would we be doing
with that old, hard bread.
You were, just as we were,
only thinking of survival.
We were all so hungry then.
There’s a woman here
in Happily Ever After who
feeds poison to the birds.
She says the birds peck
at her red ripe cherries,
and where is the happily
in that? So she hides
the poison in Wonder bread
and then spreads it on the ground.
I’m telling you
this as your friend. Stay in
the woods. Happiness is not
all as it looks.

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It begins as a dark wing arcing up,
then cart wheeling high, swooping
down, then back up to a point before
diving as falcons do toward the earth
with great straightness, curving up
at the very last moment, in this case
before meeting the blue solid line, climbing
to intersect the first long arc,
then doubling back on its path.

The pencil wheels across the blank
page, it flies into another loop,
and another, pushes into a bow
and then bends, sweeps and circles again,
and the boy moves his hand, entranced
by the leaden record of its dance
as his thoughts appear on uneven horizons
until the whole page
is a flock of slender black wings
all of them rising at once,
that beating, that beating, his heart.

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alongside the cliff
keeping pace with my car
the blue heron


flying blackbird
dead mouse in its beak
this too is peace


more wind
than woman
this flesh


even the whitest lilies
are blue


sharing breath
with the crow
the whole world is crow


in the nest,
two blue eggs
two wide brown eyes

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