Today's poem is by Myrna Stone

What the Season Spares

         Singly and in turn, or together
in small numbers, they fly up
            out of the hawthorn thicket, spooked
     or blown into the air, so anonymous
         in the immense and neutral winter
            one could be another.

         And this is what you want:
to see them glide back down
            again to the branch or sill or feeder
     where each is transformed, an intimate
         particular to the eye, the sum of
            its own familial story.

         In the old story my brother
is the boy who can't sit still
            sitting still for hours, transfixed by
     their quick, erratic traffic outside
         his window. He brought birds home
            in his pocket, his cap,

         the cup of his hands, knowing
they might be saved, but never
            kept. What he loved was flight — the lift
     and thrust and drag of it — a wonder
         he imagined he could restore them to
            with his full implement

         of care, so that when he held them
up to the window, light, like air,
            seemed to breath motion back into them.
     And when they died he took them
         apart, wing by wing with a knife,
            to be sure he knew

         what he knew. Muscle, bone, feather,
genus and species, seed-feeders,
            insect-eaters, junco, finch, or sparrow —
     when they come to ground they are
         stone and snow and memory, all
            the season has spared.

Copyright © 2004 Myrna Stone All rights reserved
from The Art of Loss
Michigan State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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