I only want to watch the birds
as they flock to the feeders,
a wave of feathers and sleek bodies
vying for a spot.

At noon the finches fill up my porch
with possibility–
dropping down like strange leaves
breathing in the cold air,
living motion.

As winter beats against them,
they flock–
keeping warm with expanded feathers
shaking the dew from their backs
glowing with the challenge of survival.

The birds are impervious to tragedy
but they must know loss,
they must–
On the glittering snow
the mourning doves cluster
to dig for the seed that falls
and their round bodies
melt the surface of my frozen yard.

12 Weeks

When I crested that hill,
rounding the bend on Route 32
a known road, a familiar road
it happened…
The curves and bends were foreign
as I spend towards home
uncertain, disoriented
the road became unfamiliar,
my brain waiting for it to click in place
where I was, who I was,
the purpose of my journey.
I found my footing
as I coasted to a stop
at that same traffic light in Rosendale
I’ve been stopping at for a decade.
But the fear lingered like a fine mist,
a cloud of agonizing reality.
We’ve always been four,
like the solid directions;
north, south, east, west,
stable and strong,
and now we’re teetering,
balanced on three legs,
a tripod of grief.
Even the landmarks can’t save me
their familiar shapes are ominous
as I wander among them ,
trying to find my place
without the fourth direction.
I’m so afraid of getting lost
but I’m already lost
there’s no finding my way
until I find you.


Birth and Death

We aren’t born alone
we enter the world
slipping into gloved hands
between wet thighs
wrapped in the soft cotton
of hospital blankets
placed within the waiting arms
of exhausted mothers
who would do it all over again
and we feel this,
the cushion of protection
an anchor in a dark world.
It may be our soul’s purpose
to experience love
to have bodies that bleed and shiver
to know the bliss of touch
against skin that folds itself
around our spirit
but we must die alone
even children, even babies
as our our mothers’ hands grasp
and pray
and plead
Death pulls children down
it has no bias,
no sense of justice or tragedy
Death becomes like days, months,
autumn moons
a thing of heavy reality
Mothers can’t thwart it
love isn’t enough
and so we must go alone
into the dark


A Long Time Ago

I dreamed of hummingbirds
and a field of flowers
painting the yard behind my house
Purple and pink and white
But when I woke, the ground still clung to winter,
and there were no hummingbirds
drifting through naked branches.

If I close my eyes I can see their wings,
a blur of busy motion, lost between worlds,
hovering on threads of time and space
carrying souls to the other place.

Out of mist and early morning light
when sunrise is a heartbeat away,
when night fades like the end of sleep,
I might see them
suspended above the trumpet vine
and sweet honeysuckle.


Birds In Winter


I only want to watch the birds
as they flock to the feeders:
finches, sparrows, chickadees…
dropping down like strange leaves,
stealing themselves against the chill,
keeping warm with puffed feathers,
shaking the snow from their backs,
defiant with the challenge of survival.

They seem impervious to tragedy
but they must know loss.
They must.

I see it in the way the mourning doves cluster,
beneath the hoppers, cooing, wary
I scattered the seed for them
so I can watch their round bodies
melt the surface of my frozen yard.