Sally Bliumis-Dunn

Where the Robins Took Me and Northern Flicker
August 21, 2020 Bliumis-Dunn Sally


Robins settle on the earth
like a loosely crocheted blanket
each bird, its own stitch.

They pace the lawn
listen for worms
in the late winter grass.

And then, as though a hand
tugged the stitches
free of loop and knot,

the robins lift to the sky,
as if to recover themselves,
alone in their gray feathers,
their bright persimmon breasts.

All afternoon,
I watch the flock rise and fall,
as they become

less bird than blood flowing
through some
infinite vena cava

to a heart’s hungry atrium
and out from the arteries
into the world.



I wish I could trade places with that bird—
I’d slip into its elegant pattern
of polka dots, some of them fading
as into the folds of a fine silk blouse.
On the top of the flicker’s fine-boned head,
a flare of blue like the tea hat my mother wore
on Easter Sundays. I’d gladly
place it on my head and trill her hallelujahs
if I could trust once more
what she used to tell me,
that if we all could just be good,
we would suffer less. In these bright-lit times,
I am drawn to the flicker’s name,
the momentary dimming that it brings to mind
as when a hand passes close to a dinner candle.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn teaches at the 92nd Street Y and offers writing consultations. Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Paris Review, PBS NewsHour, Plume, Poetry London, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. Her third book, Echolocation, was published by Plume Editions/MadHat Press in March of 2018 and was shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Award, a longlist finalist for the Julie Suk Award and Runner Up for the Poetry By the Sea Best Book Award.