Why We Bird

The New Republic

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POETRY JUNE 11, 2013

Why We Bird

Nightjars fly to the junipers and pines,
more skins of bark,
loaned out lungs unhinged
from our poor creaking cavity.
A fearless, unfamiliar song uncorks the forest—
                                                                             our exhale

without the bodily burden.
We are only the lookout. We can’t support
                                                                       the arctic tern over the sea


on her impossible polar journey,
                                                        but we love
that she’s tireless and we praise
ourselves for making it through
the miscarriage and our mother’s death.

 

A glossy ibis wades the freshwater—
our father’s roaming, wasted life.

Silent thrum, a humming bird
pierces the plastic flowers
we draw around us like hope.
With stained necks,
as if someone slit their delicate throats,
                                                                they rise like ghosts.


We feel our bones are hollow
 and collapsible. They tell us

we will never die.
One in four people are birders. One in four
wait for a Great Bird to cast his shadow,
the way a distant cloud shades
a distant mountain
and we can see it’s happening. We can see
outside the realm
                                of dark, for once,
we are not under it.

 

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