Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Bobolink by Didi Jackson


In a meadow 
as wide as a wound
I thought to stop 
and study the lesser stitchwort’s 
white flowers lacing up 
boot-level grasses
when I was scolded in song
by a black and white bird 
whose wings sipped air,
swallow-like, until he landed 
on the highest tip
of yellow dock, 
still singing his beautiful warning,
the brown female 
with him in fear. 
The warning was real:
the anniversary of my husband’s suicide. 
What was the matter with life? Sometimes
when wind blows,
the meadow moves like an ocean,
and on that day,
I was in its wake—
I mean the day in the meadow.
I mean the day he died. 
This is not another suicide poem.
This is a poem about a bird
I wanted to know and so
I spent that evening looking
up his feathers and flight, 
spent most of the night
searching for mating habits 
and how to describe the yellow
nape of his neck like a bit 
of gothic stained glass,
or the warm brown
females with a dark eyeline. 
How could I have known 
like so many species 
they too are endangered?
God must be exhausted:
those who chose life;
those who chose death. 
That day I braided a few
strips of timothy hay 
as I waited for the pair
to move again, to lift 
from the field and what, 
live? The dead can take
a brother, a sister; not really. 
The dead have no one. 
Here in this field 
I worried the mowers
like giant gorging mouths
would soon begin again
and everything would be 
as it will.

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