As probably more than a few of us have, I’ve become much more of a bird-watcher these pandemic days. Hence, the following poem, triggered by yesterday’s ride.
What I Learn From Birds
The higher in the sky, the more cause
to wonder what has called this flock
of turkey vultures to spiral upward
coasting the thermals until some spent
thing calls them down to Earth again.
And yesterday on the road’s edge
what bird lay there, body splayed
from a collision with an unexpected
obstacle? I almost stopped to confirm
that its barred feathers looked hawk.
I used to collect all manner of feathers,
lay them out on the mantel in a family
of stones and shells, and later on my
dresser at the base of the photo of my
late husband, a man who loved birds.
These days, I no longer stoop to pick up
gull, crow, blue jay, dove, or those tiny
nameless fluffs along the way. And I have
discarded any older ones—dust-gatherers
in a house already filling with dust.
Yet I still crave to feel bird-flight raise me
into the void, seek out the songs, squawks,
and cries that call me to translate—even to
chirp or whistle back as I briefly become
bird, hoping for an answer.
A simple ride with new binoculars can lift
my spirit—as a blur of white on the horizon
becomes ibis, a red flash under a black wing
shouts red-winged blackbird, and five crows
bathing in a puddle splash me with laughter.
© 2020 Penny Harter