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Brainy Prizes

Spring Poem

flowers0002.jpgIn honor of spring's recent arrival, I'll post a poem. I may have only done so once before, but I'm thinking of adding a poetry link, as this Typepad package offers an additional blog option. With child-rearing as my current focus and knitting as the consequent creative output, I'm on hiatus from writing and submitting poems. Still, sometimes you just wanna toss a poem out there without working the po-biz channels. Happy Spring.


I. Red-tailed Hawk

Bare limbs, gray skies, the road cannot contain
my vision as I drive Virginia piedmont
from one home to another. Tree upon tree
draws my seeker’s eye until I find again
and again their reassuring forms which wait
in high branches. As if they know I’m looking,
counting, measuring my progress by their number,
they survey their territories until I pass.
Surely behind me they’ll spread
great wings, throw white breasts to the wind
and show the namesake feathers now concealed.
Twice, I saw them paired, sharing a bough
like a couple long married, aware without
interacting. Do birds of prey mate for life?
Standing in my mother’s kitchen, the shock
of the hawk’s familiar shape in that suburban place
gives way to the warmth of sharing my find
with her whose binoculars rest on the sill.
She hangs houses on each tree, sunflower-seed
angels and suet-studded apples feed
her flock. I return to watch
and give thanks for the places we meet.

II. Cardinal

A drop of blood on the skin of the world,
if the silent surface that follows snow
can fairly represent skin. But what
of the peoples whose shade this crimson
plumage most closely matches?
Can we call it the painted mark
of a geisha, when powder coats her skin
to snowy pale? I toss crumbs and seeds
onto the frozen crust of the morning,
hope for a sun to loosen its grip, to let me
find an afternoon’s tiny footprints
in their place. I hear the cheep cheep cry
before I spy the red body, a buoy in fog
floating behind the crape myrtle.
Life weathers the storm. The sun will come.
This red can be blood on spring’s dark skin,
ripe for the grasses this bird’s mate
will add to the emergent nest.

III. House Finch

Blossoming from the brass hook, the fuchsia
sways with wind or the swift small bird,
porch-blown twigs and grasses
disappear before the breeze can take them, soon
a nest crowds the cascading branches. Days
pass and then I open the door to a chorus
of tiny sounds too new to call chirping.
I stand on the rail to peer in at four
barely feathered, visible heartbeats.
Two days and eyes open, beaks
beam yellow as sunflowers waving
in wide cries for food. A week
finds a lone downy ball perched
on nest’s rim, new legs uncertain
as mother squawks lessons from a tree
nearby, or seeks to frighten me away.
I wait for what seems hours, the reluctant
fledgling unwilling to try what nature ensures
in its being—flight, as sure as the fuchsia buds
shall burst into flower. And then I go on,
called by my own life’s work. Evening,
I find the nest empty, take down the plant
to examine what new life has called home.
Sticks, leaves, droppings solidified
to the wall of the planter, left to nourish its soil.

IV. Goldfinch

How can you be so yellow in this world?
Wear a coat that calls look at me, see
how bright can be creation
? Only the jay
in this small yard casts as intense a hue,
but its rude cry and humor make armor you lack.
That other primary, cardinal, still blends
into foliate branches. Your spiral flight
and excited call capture my attention more
than if you were stealthy. Small birds
sing loud as if they must compensate
for what they lack in mass. Nearby
coreopsis explodes a profusion of similar shade,
its petaled buttons float amid a net of green.
You appear at the feeder and I stop
sudden in my kitchen tracks, afraid
even my breath may send you reeling.