Gwyneth Lewis - Birder

(i.m. my aunt Megan 1924-2009)

I
Midwinter, season for seeing through
Time and space. Before the War,
You were ‘sparrow’. Now I hear
Geese in your breathing, oboe sighs.
Overhead they’re leaving too. Each bird’s
A letter, making sense
For a moment, then not. Cirrus of snow
Lays over the woods. Sluggish
With ice, the creek’s pulse slows.

II
Morning performance on the stage
Under the feeder. Enter wild turkeys,
A corps de ballet in copper tutus.
Solo of startle – entrechat, entrechat,
Pas de bourĂ©es – then the tom
Leads off his harem, one by one,
No curtsey, no curtain call. Then gone.

III
Fashion show: a black-eyed junco
Models its species – train,
Down jacket (in white and slate),
Then profile. When I die
I want to hear birds ricochet
Outside my window, feel the strobe
Of small flocks feeding. I’d like
To deserve this litany:
Woodpecker, waxwing, chickadee.

IV
It’s no small thing to have lived your life
In cardinals’ and tree-creepers’ eyes.
They’ll feel you first as a rendezvous missed,
Then hunger. Your body’s the birds
Waiting as they rise and scatter
To a final slam of the kitchen door.

with thanks to The Guardian