My thanks to Dayna Patterson and the crew at Psaltery and Lyre for publishing my poem this morning. Check out their beautiful website.
Update: This poem was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart prize. My thanks to Psaltery and Lyre for this honor.
She wasn’t sure about heaven,
but she believed in birds.
On walks she’d stop to watch
a skein of geese, wondered
where they came from,
where they were heading.
They mate for life, she’d say.
Crows do too. And swans
and storks. She must have said that
a hundred times, with a kind of wonder
at the impossibility.
She kept five feeders on the deck,
had a book of backyard birds
to identify newcomers at the feast.
She cried when a neighbor’s cat
killed a mourning dove. They mate
for life too, she said. Listen,
her mate is sad. That’s just their call,
I told her. No, it’s different, she said.
You can tell when birds are sad.
She died a month ago.
I keep the feeders filled.
– Sarah Russell
Picture courtesy of The Spruce