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September 2017, vol 13 no 3

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Penny Harter

Bird Watching

Begins at home. A bird in the house or hearing an owl call means death. My daughter is afraid of birds in the house, runs to the nest of her room while her father and I trap a lost robin.

surfacing from
an anesthetic fog –
whose heartbeat?

When a child, my late husband saw a hawk take a grackle, then witnessed his father shoot the hawk as they came upon it perched on a fencepost and shredding feathers from its prey, the pile of down below it a rising barrow to honor the dead. The shredded grackle joined the bloodied hawk, sinking into the feather bed below like Newton’s apple dropped from a cloudless sky.

How many origami doves should we fold to hang above the crib of the past? How many canaries let loose in the mine will die before we learn to evacuate the dark cave of apocalypse?

solar eclipse –
too many eyes scarred by
the nuclear corona

And now I bend to retrieve a random headline from a discarded paper: Nine Rules for the Blackbird Watcher. Blackbird watching is less common than songbird watching, though the grackles’ speckled iridescence glitters among dusty leaves, and the red-winged ones startle us awake, flashing their scarlet breasts.

red canyon walls –
ancient handprints
echo our own


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