Today's poem is by Ann Lauinger

What Feathers Are For
I donít want to be a daddy because daddies die.
—Jack Shanaberger, age 4, to his mother after his father was killed in Iraq.

That racketís a baby woodpecker, plump and soft as a gland.
Its tinier mother—a clockworks toy—drills for bugs
upside down, and swivels to stuff
her squawking fledglingís craw.

Itís June: baby crows refuse to grow up.
Half-hopping, half-flapping oversized infants,
they wonít trust wings and pretend to forget how to fly
in clumsy pursuit of one more free meal.

Even eaglets, born to be lords of the air, plummet
as much as they soar. In the absence of instinct,
their learning curve is a precipice, sheer trial
and mortal error teaching them what their feathers are for.

When baby Astyanax howled the truth on a tower in Troy,
shining Hector put off the bronze helmet.
Godlike, he laid the terrible plumes in the dirt.
Yes, he said. And, mortal, kissed his mortal boy.

Copyright © 2006 Ann Lauinger All rights reserved
from The National Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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