psalm of birds and birthdays

    (for Marjorie Evasco)

    You hold a small bird to your breast.
    You who have mothered and know how
    it is to nurse a second fluttering heart,
    to let your body make space for another
    as if it were the most natural thing

    now shape your sure hand lightly into wing;
    a gesture of compassion, like prayer, as free
    of hesitant desire as the hatchling knows of fear
    and what must surely come, one cloudless day
    in unmistaken whispers. This is Hope:

    the clear eye fixed beyond the narrow frame,
    the fragile talon poised on no more firm foundation
    than this flesh, the ruffled down sufficient and at trust.
    I, a weak father, lack the language and the innocence
    to call down angels. Once I found a fallen nestling

    whose parents’ unschooled artistry did not after all
    withstand the previous evening’s storm. Blind,
    leathery and clawing, ants come already to plunder,
    I scooped it (not untenderly) to shade, covered
    it with leaves. Was the decent thing to have kept vigil

    or leave quietly?  My daughter, 4, knows that goldfish
    go to heaven when they go, but more to the point,
    that they don’t come back. She leans on my arm, asks
    me never to die, her small heart strong enough to love
    and not tire. What do we do to earn our time on earth?

17 May 2009   03:47 hours
congruence { } full