Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Poem: Jennifer Hill-Kaucher

Birds of North America

"What you see in a guide is what you see in nature."
~ The Golden Guide to Field Identification, North American Birds

My mother watches families of wrens
move in and out of the birdhouse,
names the chickadees and titmouse,
curses the sharp-shinned hawk that lurks
on her fence. The shrubbery, full of finches,
holds its breath. Even the squirrels, doves
and chipmunks that pick at the dropped seed
are invisible. The hawk cranes his neck
at every rustle. A yield light eye
hones in when the first finch darts out
and his movement is one quick mechanical
drop and lift into the air, a light brown pennant
against the blank sky.

A common yellowthroat circles the room of light
beamed into the sky by the World Trade Center.
Disoriented, it flies into the glass and falls, stunned.
A woman on a scooter zips by the perimeter of buildings,
brown bags and labels the dead or dazed.
The dead are frozen. The dazed are freed.

All three outbuildings burned down,
the one closest to the house filled
with partridges, quail, doves and a peacock.
He kept his shop in there, sanded tops and ships
between the coo and guttural warbles.
There was nothing to do. She watched from her dishes
at the kitchen sink. In the morning before sunrise,
ash scent and birdsong crisscrossed in the fields.

~ Jennifer Hill-Kaucher gave me no biographical information, but this is her first appearance in Elegant Thorn Review. Look for more of her work in the future.

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