Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2019  Vol. 18 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Birds and the Way They Understand Love

Tonight, the end. Birds
fly south for the winter, and here
in the Dakotas the winds have shifted
their migration patterns. Birds 
smell the end of summer and imagine autumn
as their lover, its plume against the pillow
of cold weather, their eyes moving
in a dream they can’t be a part of.
And then: a cold snap so sudden
birds die in flight. Their hearts fill the silos
in Mandan and Bismarck. The papers
can’t explain it, nor the pastors and priests
who always have an answer for the way
God hurts us over and over as if a lesson
can be understood in this lifetime.
What’s faith if not a dream of loss
and hope for the loss of memory. Birds have
the shortest memories of any creature
except for humans. We go out
one night full of love and come back
indifferent. Love is funny that way.
It dresses up and leaves the house,
comes back in different clothes,
feathers it found somewhere else.  

return to top