Patricia Horn O'Brien

Taking Care of Birds and Other/Small Creatures

 

 

"As the news unfolded over the day, my husband, John, and I attempted to live as we always live, all the while trying to take in the horror of the story of a Connecticut elementary school under siege.  By the end of the day, I had the foundation of this poem.  As is often the case, poetry offered a safe place to go with  my overwhelming feelings of sorrow along with my gratitude for my life and my children. Today is the 5th Anniversary of the Newtown shooting."  POB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The birdfeeders have been empty for over

three weeks. Last evening sparrows,

brown and forlorn as the broken leaves

scattered across our lawn, hovered

above the feeders and poked the darkening air,

only to fly far from the ice-shorn marsh

behind our house.

 

Feeding the birds is my job at this house

of ours, which is one story and just right

for the two of us now, without the boys

whose tossed-off sneakers rerouted the way

through our old rambling Cape, whose voices

could jar even those beyond noise, who wrestled

the furniture along with themselves

onto our hardwood floors, until one by one,

tall then as men, and wise, they packed up

their childhood, paused for a hug and left

that big house stone-still.

 

Here from our low perch we glimpse them

now and then, their own fledglings

not far behind, sneakers in hallways …

piles and piles of them …  

jostling for space, poised for flying.

 

This afternoon my husband says

before I can say what is always mine to say ,

Let’s fill the birdfeeders today.

 

Without more being said

we haul on our hats and coats,

click the door closed

on the unfolding news

of the first graders, silent now,

sneakers snug on their feet,

 

and head to the feeders aloft

on the winter-bright air.

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