WHERE THE ROBINS TOOK ME
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.
I watch the flock rise and fall,
as they become
less bird than blood flowing
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.